The Zeyheria montana shrub is quite common in the Brazilian Cerrado and is known to have extrafloral nectaries on the leaf blade that attract patrolling ants such as the aggressive Ectatomma tuberculatum. The ant, in turn, defends the leaves against the action of herbivores. However, extrafloral nectaries can distract ants on the leaves, segregating them from the reproductive parts and preventing them from driving away pollinators, which can benefit the action of florivores and nectar robbers.
Surprisingly, in southeastern Brazil, we observed a second defensive mutualism occurring on the reproductive tissues of these shrubs between E. tuberculatum and the treehopper Guayaquila xiphias, which provides the ant with honeydew in exchange for protection. This trophobiosis relationship (interaction between ants and phytophagous hemipterans that secrete sugary exudates) seems to be effective not only in the defense of floral buds and flowers, but also of the fruit, which, despite being dry, contains a lot of water in its formation and is attacked by beetles of the Curculionidae family.
As far as we know, this is the first case reported in the literature of a double defensive mutualism occurring simultaneously on a single plant species. Given this record, important questions arise regarding these interactions. Is the trophobiosis that occurs in reproductive organs capable of increasing the fitness of these plants? Although these ants are probably also scaring away possible pollinating insects, could the fact that Z. montana is primarily pollinated by hummingbirds offset this loss given that hummingbirds are larger and perhaps immune to ant attacks?
Our record raises more questions than it answers. Long-term Z. montana population studies would help improve our ecological understanding of these interactions.
By the time authors – who have acknowledged third-party financial support in their research papers submitted to a journal using the Pensoft-developed publishing platform: ARPHA – open their inboxes to the congratulatory message that their work has just been published and made available to the wide world, a similar notification will have also reached their research funder.
This automated workflow is already in effect at all journals (co-)published by Pensoft and those published under their own imprint on the ARPHA Platform, as a result of the new partnership with the OA Switchboard: a community-driven initiative with the mission to serve as a central information exchange hub between stakeholders about open access publications, while making things simpler for everyone involved.
All the submitting author needs to do to ensure that their research funder receives a notification about the publication is to select the supporting agency or the scientific project (e.g. a project supported by Horizon Europe) in the manuscript submission form, using a handy drop-down menu. In either case, the message will be sent to the funding body as soon as the paper is published in the respective journal.
“At Pensoft, we are delighted to announce our integration with the OA Switchboard, as this workflow is yet another excellent practice in scholarly publishing that supports transparency in research. Needless to say, funding and financing are cornerstones in scientific work and scholarship, so it is equally important to ensure funding bodies are provided with full, prompt and convenient reports about their own input.”
comments Prof Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.
“Research funders are one of the three key stakeholder groups in OA Switchboard and are represented in our founding partners. They seek support in demonstrating the extent and impact of their research funding and delivering on their commitment to OA. It is great to see Pensoft has started their integration with OA Switchboard with a focus on this specific group, fulfilling an important need,”
adds Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director of the OA Switchboard.
About the OA Switchboard:
A global not-for-profit and independent intermediary established in 2020, the OA Switchboard provides a central hub for research funders, institutions and publishers to exchange OA-related publication-level information. Connecting parties and systems, and streamlining communication and the neutral exchange of metadata, the OA Switchboard provides direct, indirect and community benefits: simplicity and transparency, collaboration and interoperability, and efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Pensoft is an independent academic publishing company, well known worldwide for its novel cutting-edge publishing tools, workflows and methods for text and data publishing of journals, books and conference materials.
All journals (co-)published by Pensoft are hosted on Pensoft’s full-featured ARPHA Publishing Platform and published in a way that ensures their content is as FAIR as possible, meaning that it is effortlessly readable, discoverable, harvestable, citable and reusable by both humans and machines.
Invasive insects can be vectors of diseases, cause damage to agriculture and forestry, and threaten native biodiversity. Recognising this dramatic impact, the open-access journal Alpine Entomology, published by Pensoft on behalf of the Swiss Entomological Society, opened a dedicated topical collection that is already accepting submissions.
Impacts of alien insects in the Alpine ecosysteminvites scientists working on invasive species and plant-insect interactions in Alpine regions to openly publish their research articles, review articles, and short communications on, among others, trends or changes in biogeography of emblematic species, shifts in current distributions, or niche replacement.
The new article collection will be edited by Oliver Martin of ETH Zürich, subject editor and editorial board member at Alpine Entomology, Stève Breitenmoser, and Dominique Mazzi.
“Recent years have seen a worldwide increase in invasions by alien species, especially plants and insects, mostly due to trade and climate change,” they explain, noting that although numerous studies exist on the topic, few of them focus on the Alpine areas.
“With this collection we hope to generate exciting discussions and exchange within the scientific community interested in this very particular and sensitive ecosystem,” the editors say, inviting authors to submit their manuscripts assessing the possible impacts of invasive insects on mountain areas.
The collection will remain open for submissions for the next two years. In the meantime, the accepted manuscripts will be published on a rolling basis, as soon as they are ready for publication.
Discovery of the first moth species to mine the leaves of the highly poisonous Alpine rose
An Austrian-Swiss research team was able to find a previously unknown glacial relic in the Alps, the Alpine rose leaf-miner moth. It is the first known species to have its caterpillars specializing on the rust-red alpine rose, a very poisonous, widely distributed plant that most animals, including moths and butterflies, strictly avoid. The extraordinary record was just published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Alpine Entomology.
Poisonous host plant
The rust-red alpine rose (Rhododendron ferrugineum) is among the best-known and most attractive plants due to its flowering splendor – at least for humans. It is, in fact, a highly poisonous plant, strictly avoided by grazing animals. For insects, the alpine rose is attractive at most as a nectar plant; insect larvae, on the other hand, develop on it only in exceptional cases. This also applies to Alpine butterflies and moths, which leave Alpine roses largely untouched despite their wide distribution. Therefore, the discovery of a highly specialized species in the Alps came as a complete surprise.
Since alpine roses are unattractive to caterpillars and no insect the entire Alpine region was previously known to specialize on them, butterfly and moth experts had considered them rather uninteresting and ignored them in their research. The discovery of the alpine rose leaf-miner wasn’t the result of a targeted search: it was a pure stroke of luck.
During a cloudy spell in July this year, researchers surveying the butterflies in Ardez in the Engadine valley, Switzerland, happened to take a break exactly at an infested alpine rose bush.
“The accidental sighting of the first caterpillar in an alpine rose leaf was an absolute adrenaline rush, it was immediately clear that this must be an extraordinary species,”
Peter Huemer, researcher and head of the natural sciences department of the Tyrolean State Museums
Peter Huemer, researcher and head of the natural sciences department of the Tyrolean State Museums, and Swiss butterfly and moth expert Jürg Schmid came back in late July and early August to look for caterpillars and pupae and find out more about this curious insect. The extended search yielded evidence of a stable population of a species that was initially a complete enigma.
Life in the leaf
The alpine rose leaf-miner moth drills through the upper leaf skin and into the leaf interior immediately after the caterpillar hatches. The caterpillar then spends its entire life until pupation between the intact leaf skins, eating the leaf from the inside. Thanks to this behavior, the caterpillar is just as well protected from bad weather as from many predators such as birds, spiders, or some carnivore insects. The feeding trail, called a leaf mine, begins with a long corridor and ends in a large square-like mine section. The feces are deposited inside this mine. When the time comes for pupation, the caterpillar leaves the infested leaf and makes a typical web on the underside or a nearby leaf. With the help of several fine silk threads, it produces an elaborate “hammock”, in which the pupation finally takes place. In the laboratory, after about 10 days, the successful breeding to a moth succeeded, with a striking result.
Enigmatic glacial relic
Huemer and Schmid were surprised to find out that the moths belonged to a species that was widespread in northern Europe, northern Asia and North America – the swamp porst leaf-miner butterfly Lyonetia ledi. By looking at its morphological features, such as wing color and pattern, and comparing its DNA barcodes to those of northern European specimens, they were able to confirm its identity.
The Engadine population, however, is located more than 400 km away from the nearest other known populations, which are on the border of Austria and the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the species lives in northern Europe exclusively on swamp porst and Gagel bush – two shrubs that are typical for raised bogs and absent from the Alps. However, the researchers suggest that in earlier cold phases – some 22,000 years ago – the swamp porst and the alpine rose did share a habitat in perialpine lowland habitats north of the Alps. It is very likely that after the last cold period and the melting of the glaciers, some populations of the species shifted their host preference from the swamp porst to the alpine rose. The separation of the distribution areas of the two plants caused by subsequent warm phases inevitably led to the separation of the moth populations.
The Alpine Rose Leaf-miner Moth is so far only known from the Lower Engadine. It lives in a steep, north-exposed, spruce-larch-pine forest at about 1,800 m above sea level. The high snow coverage in winter and the largely shady conditions in summer mean that alpine roses don’t get to bloom there. The scientists suspect that the moth species can still be discovered in places with similar conditions in the northern Alps, such as in neighboring Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Since the moth is likely nocturnal and flies late in the year, probably hibernating in the adult stage, the search for the caterpillars and pupae is more promising. However, the special microclimate of the Swiss location does not suggest that this species, which has so far been overlooked despite 250 years of research, is widespread. On the contrary, there are legitimate concerns that it could be one of the first victims of climate change.
Huemer P, Schmid J (2021) Relict populations of Lyonetia ledi Wocke, 1859 (Lepidoptera, Lyonetiidae) from the Alps indicate postglacial host-plant shift to the famous Alpenrose (Rhododendron ferrugineum L.). Alpine Entomology 5: 101-106. https://doi.org/10.3897/alpento.5.76930
“Trends in Arthropods of Alpine Aquatic Ecosystems” is the first topical collection for the journal of the Swiss Entomological Society
The open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal Alpine Entomology, published by Pensoft on behalf of the Swiss Entomological Society, announced its very first topical collection of articles, which will be focusing on arthropods associated with aquatic ecosystems in mountainous regions.
The journal is currently inviting scientists, working on aquatic fauna from alpine habitats, to openly publish their research articles and short notices that provide evidence how arthropods’ biogeography, species communities, distribution, behaviour and morphology have changed in recent times.
The Red List of Taxonomists portal, where taxonomy experts in the field of entomology can register to help map and assess expertise across Europe, in order to provide action points necessary to overcome the risks, preserve and support this important scientific community, will remain open until 31st October 2021.
Within the one-year project, the partners are to build a database of European taxonomy experts in the field of entomology and analyse the collected data to shed light on the trends in available expertise, including best or least studied insect taxa and geographic distribution of the scientists who are working on those groups. Then, they will present them to policy makers at the European Commission.
By recruiting as many as possible insect taxonomists from across Europe, the Red List of Taxonomists initiative will not only be able to identify taxa and countries, where the “extinction” of insect taxonomists has reached a critical point, but also create a robust knowledge base on taxonomic expertise across the European region to prompt further support and funding for taxonomy in the Old Continent.
On behalf of the project partners, we would like to express our immense gratitude to everyone who has self-declared as an insect taxonomist on the Red List of Taxonomists registration portal. Please feel welcome to share our call for participation with colleagues and social networks to achieve maximum engagement from everyone concerned about the future of taxonomy!
Read more about the rationale of the Red List of Taxonomists project.
Butterflies and moths (order Lepidoptera)are one of the most diverse animal groups. To date, scientists have found as many as 5,000 species from the Alps alone. Having been a place of intensive research interest for 250 years, it is considered quite a sensation if a previously unknown species is discovered from the mountain range these days. This was the case when a Swiss-Austrian team of researchers described a new species of alpine moth in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Alpine Entomology, solving a 180-year-old mystery.
Decades of research work
Initially, the team – Jürg Schmid, a full-time dentist, author and passionate butterfly and moth researcher from Switzerland, and Peter Huemer, head of the natural science collections of the Tyrolean State Museums in Innsbruck and author of more than 400 publications, needed a lot of patience.
Almost thirty years ago, in the 1990s, the two researchers independently discovered the same moth species. While they found it was similar to a moth of the leaf-roller family Tortricidae and commonly named as Dichrorampha montanana which had been known to science since 1843, it was also clearly different. Wing pattern and internal morphology of genitalia structures supported a two-species hypothesis. Moreover, the two were found at the same time in the same places – a further indication that they belong to separate species. Extensive genetic investigations later confirmed this hypothesis, but the journey of presenting a new species to science was far from over.
The Hidden Alpine Moth
To “baptise” a new species and give it its own name, scientists first have to check that it hasn’t already been named. This prevents the same species from having two different names, and essentially means looking at descriptions of similar species and comparing the new one against them to prove it is indeed unknown to science. In the case of this new moth, there were six potentially applicable older names that had to be ruled out before it could be named as new.
Intensive and time-consuming research of original specimens in the nature museums of Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt and London eventually led to the finding that all six ancient names actually referred to one and the same species – Dichrorampha alpestrana, which has been known since 1843 and had to be adopted as the valid older name for Dichrorampha montanana as having been described a couple of months earlier. Similarly, all other available names proved to belong to Dichrorampha alpestrana. The species discovered by Schmid and Huemer, however, was different, not yet named, and could finally be described as new to science. The authors chose to name it Dichrorampha velata – the Latin species name means “veiled” or “hidden,” pointing to the complicated story behind its discovery.
Lots of unanswered questions
The Hidden Alpine Moth is a striking species with a wingspan of up to 16 mm and a characteristic olive-brown color of the forewings with silvery lines. It belongs to a group of mainly diurnal moths and is particularly common locally in colorful mountain flower meadows. For now, we know that its distribution extends at least from Salzburg and Tyrol through southern Switzerland and the Jura to the French and Italian Alps, with isolated finds known from the Black Forest in Germany, but the researchers believe it might have a wider range in Central Europe.
The biology of the new species is completely unknown, but Huemer and Schmid speculate that its caterpillars may live in the rhizome of yarrow or chrysanthemums like other species of the same genus. As with many other alpine moths, there is a strong need for further research, so we can get a better understanding of this fascinating insect.
Schmid J, Huemer P (2021) Unraveling a complex problem: Dichrorampha velata sp. nov., a new species from the Alps hitherto confounded with D. alpestrana ([Zeller], 1843) sp. rev. = D. montanana (Duponchel, 1843) syn. nov. (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae). Alpine Entomology 5: 37-54. https://doi.org/10.3897/alpento.5.67498
The discovery of new, still unnamed animal species in a well-researched European region like the Alps is always a small sensation. All the more surprising is the description of a total of three new to science species previously misidentified as long-known alpine moths.
During a genetic project of the Tyrolean State Museums in Innsbruck (Austria), Austrian entomologist and head of the Natural Science Collections Peter Huemer used an integrative research approach that relies on molecular methods to study four European moths. Despite having been known for decades, those species remained quite controversial, because of many unknowns around their biology.
At the end, however, it turned out that the scientist was not dealing with four, but seven species. The three that were not adding up were indeed previously unknown species. Therefore, Huemer described the moths in a paper in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Alpine Entomology. Curiously, all three species were given the names of legendary alpinists: Reinhold Messner, Peter Habeler and David Lama.
Tribute to three legends in alpinism
“The idea to name the new species in honour of three world-renowned climbers was absolutely no coincidence,”
One of the newly described species, Caryocolum messneri, or Messner’s Curved-horn moth, is dedicated to Reinhold Messner. Messner is a famous alpinist who was the first to reach Mount Everest without additional oxygen, but also the first climber to ascend all fourteen peaks over 8,000 metres. For decades, he has been inspiring followers through lectures and books. His is also the Messner Mountain Museum project, which comprises six museums located at six different locations in South Tyrol, northern Italy, where each has the task to educate visitors on “man’s encounter with mountains” by showcasing the science of mountains and glaciers, the history of mountaineering and rock climbing, the history of mythical mountains, and the history of mountain-dwelling people.
“So what could have been a better fit for a name for the species that flutters on the doorstep of his residence, the Juval Castle in South Tyrol?”
The second new species, Caryocolum habeleri, or Habeler’s Curved-horn moth, honours another extraordinary mountaineer: Peter Habeler. Having joined Messner on his expedition to Mount Everest, he also climbed this mountain without additional oxygen in a first for history. Another achievement is his climbing the famous Eiger North Face in mere 10 hours. Additionally, together with the study’s author, he sits on the advisory board of the nature conservation foundation “Blühendes Österreich“. However, the species’ name is also a nod to Peter Habeler’s cousin: Heinz Habeler, recognised as “the master of butterfly and moth research in Styria”. His collection is now housed in the Tyrolean State Museums.
The third alpinist, whose name is immortalised in a species name, is David Lama, specially recognised by Huemer for his commitment to conservation. Once, in order to protect endangered butterflies along the steep railway embankments in Innsbruck, Lama took care to secure volunteers in a remarkable action. Nevertheless, Lama earned his fame for his spectacular climbing achievements. His was the first free ascent of the Compressor route on the south-eastern flank of Cerro Torre.
“Unfortunately, David lost his life far too soon in a tragic avalanche accident on 16 April 2019 in Banff National Park, Canada. Now, Caryocolum lamai (Lama’s Curved-horn moth) is supposed to make him ‘immortal’ also in the natural sciences,”
Many unresolved questions
The newly described moth species are closely related and belong to the genus Caryocolum of the so-called Curved-horn moths (family Gelechiidae).
As caterpillars, the species of this genus live exclusively on carnation plants. Even though the biology of the new moths is still unknown, because of their collection localities, it could be deduced that plants such as the stone carnation are likely their hosts. All species are restricted to dry and sunny habitats and sometimes inhabit altitudes of up to 2,500 m. So far, they have only been observed with artificial light at night.
While Messner’s Curved-horn moth occurs from northern Italy to Greece, the area of Habeler’s Curved-horn Moth is limited to the regions between southern France, northern Switzerland and southeastern Germany. On the other hand, Caryocolum lamai, only inhabits a small area in the western Alps of Italy and France.
Research on alpine butterflies and moths has been an important scientific focus at the Tyrolean state museums for decades. In 30 years, Peter Huemer discovered and named over 100 previously unknown to science species of lepidopterans. All these new discoveries have repeatedly shown the gaps in the study of biodiversity, even in Central Europe.
“How could we possibly protect a species that we don’t even have a name for is one of the key questions for science that derives from these studies,”
says Huemer in conclusion.
Huemer P (2020) Integrative revision of the Caryocolum schleichi species group – a striking example of a temporally changing species concept (Lepidoptera, Gelechiidae). Alpine Entomology 4: 39-63. https://doi.org/10.3897/alpento.4.50703
In an unexpected discovery from New Zealand, two species of narrowly distributed moths were described as new species. Interestingly, both Arctesthes titanica and Arctesthes avatar were named after mythological deities and top-grossing blockbusters by famous filmmaker James Cameron: Titanic and Avatar, respectively.
In an unexpected discovery from the South Island (New Zealand), two species of narrowly distributed macro-moths were described as new species. Interestingly, both Arctesthes titanica and Arctesthes avatar were named after mythological deities and top-grossing blockbusters by famous filmmaker James Cameron: Titanic and Avatar, respectively.
Because of its relatively large size, one of the new discoveries: A. titanica, was named in reference to the Titans: the elderly gods in Greek mythology and the legendary, if ill-fated, record-breaking passenger ship ‘Titanic’, which became the subject of the famous 1997 American epic romance and disaster film of the same name. Unfortunately, the moth’s small wetland habitat is located in an area that is currently facing a range of damaging farming practices, such as over-sowing, grazing, stock trampling and vehicle damage.
On the other hand, A. avatar received its name after Forest & Bird, the New Zealand conservation organisation that was behind the 2012 BioBlitz at which the new species was collected, ran a public competition where “the avatar moth” turned up as the winning entry. The reference is to the indigenous people and fauna in Avatar. Just like them, the newly described moth is especially vulnerable to habitat change and destruction. In addition, the study’s authors note that the original avatars came from Hindu mythology, where they are the incarnations of deities, including Vishnu, for example, who would transform into Varaha the boar.
In conclusion, the scientists point out that future studies to monitor and further understand the fauna of New Zealand are of crucial importance for its preservation:
“Quantitative studies as well as work on life histories and ecology are particularly needed. Already one formerly common endemic geometrid species, Xanthorhoe bulbulata, has declined drastically and is feared possibly extinct: its life history and host-plant have never been discovered. Without further intensive study of the fauna of modified and threatened New Zealand environments, we will be unable to prevent other species slipping away.”
Patrick BH, Patrick HJH, Hoare RJB (2019) Review of the endemic New Zealand genus Arctesthes Meyrick (Lepidoptera, Geometridae, Larentiinae), with descriptions of two new range-restricted species. Alpine Entomology 3: 121-136. https://doi.org/10.3897/alpento.3.33944
As a result of an unanimous vote at the Swiss Entomological Society’s general assembly in March, the journal is now rebranded as Alpine Entomology to reflect the shift in its scope and focus. Furthermore, the renowned journal is also changing its format, submission and review process, “in accordance with the standards of modern scientific publishing”, as explained in the inaugural Editorial.
The first articles of Alpine Entomology in partnership with Pensoft are already live on the journal’s new website.
Alpine Entomology now accommodates a long list of high-tech perks and brand new looks thanks to the innovative journal publishing platform ARPHA – the Pensoft-developed innovative journal publishing platform.
Nonetheless, the journal preserves its well-respected expertise and dedication to original research on the insect fauna. Occasionally, it will be also publishing studies on other arthropods from the Alpine region or other mountainous regions all over the world.
Apart from the all-new look and feel visible at first glance, there are many technologically-advanced innovations to benefit authors, readers, reviewers and editors alike.
Thanks to the fast-track and convenient publishing provided by ARPHA, each manuscript is carried through all stages from submission and reviewing to dissemination and archiving without ever leaving the platform’s singular collaboration-friendly online environment.
Once published, all articles in Alpine Entomology are to be available in three formats (PDF, XML, HTML), enriched with a whole set of semantic enhancements, so that the articles are easy to discover, access and harvest by both humans and machines.
Amongst the first papers, there are descriptions of several new mountainous species from around the world that have remained unknown to science until very recently. Two separate papers describe two new species of long-legged flies from Turkey and Croatia, respectively; while a third one reports a new ground beetle dwelling in Bhutan’s Thrumshingla National Park.
“I’m delighted to welcome this particular new member of the Pensoft’s and ARPHA’s family,” says the publisher’s founder and CEO Prof. Lyubomir Penev. “With our own solid experience in both scholarly publishing and entomological research, I’m certain that we’ll be able to provide the right venue for a fantastic title as Alpine Entomology.
“This year sees a lot of changes for the Swiss Entomological Society‘s signature journal, which I believe are all extremely positive,” says Alpine Entomology‘s Editor-in-Chief Dr. Thibault Lachat. “By making use of the modern, technologically advanced open access publishing provided by ARPHA and Pensoft, I’m convinced that our journal will increase its visibility and gain an international reputation in the entomological community.”