Kerala

New species of copepod discovered

Tortanus dhritiae, a new species of copepod discovered from the coast of Great Nicobar, which is part of the Andaman-Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. 

Tortanus dhritiae, a new species of copepod discovered from the coast of Great Nicobar, which is part of the Andaman-Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.  | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

A team of researchers has discovered a new copepod species, a planktonic crustacean, from the coast of Great Nicobar, which is part of the Andaman-Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.

The copepod has been named ‘Tortanus dhritiae’ in honour of Dr. Dhriti Banerjee, the first woman director of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).

The team led by Sanu V. Francis, assistant professor, department of zoology, Mary Matha Arts and Science College, Mananthavady, and Jasmine Purushothaman, head of protozoology section, ZSI, discovered the new species. Prof. Bijoy Nandan, Dean, School of Marine Sciences, Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), was also a member of the team.

“Among marine zooplankton, copepods are the most dominant group in marine subtropical and tropical waters and exhibit great diversity in their morphology and habitats. They form a crucial link between primary producers and higher trophic levels in the food web. Any change in copepod populations may disrupt the pelagic food web of the entire marine ecosystem. Therefore, the study of copepods is of great importance,” said Dr. Sanu.

Tortanus dhritiae, which belongs to the genus Tortanus and subgenus Atortus, is mainly found on coral islands in the Pacific Ocean. Among these, only seven species have been found in the Indian Ocean so far, he added.

“Tortanus copepods are distributed mainly in the coral reef ecosystems, so they can only be found and collected using advanced methods such as scuba diving. In addition, identifying these microscopic organisms requires expertise, but only a few experts are available in the country. That may be a reason why very few species are found in the Indian Ocean” Dr. Jasmine said.

Studies on copepods in the Indian Ocean have not been conducted extensively. As part of expeditions in the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and Lakshadweep communities, Dr. Sanu and Prof. Nandan have discovered around 70 copepods and their DNA barcodes.

“Climate change and habitat disruptions are challenging for the survival of the coral reef ecosystem. Hence, studies regarding the marine taxa should be indispensable” Dr. Jasmine said.

The discovery has been published in the recent edition of the international taxonomy journal Nauplius.


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Printable version | Aug 20, 2022 7:58:23 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/new-species-of-copepod-discovered/article65764815.ece