THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Our knowledge of the Western Ghats is now richer by several new species of freshwater crabs. A collaborative effort by the Zoological Survey of India and Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, Kerala University, has thrown up one new genus and six new species of freshwater crabs from the Kerala side of the Ghats.
With this, the freshwater crab diversity of the state has risen to 34 species including 23 endemic species, the highest in the country, said A Biju Kumar, professor and head, Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries.
Details of the study have been published in the current issue of Journal of Natural History.
The new genus, christened ‘Karkata’- meaning crab in Sanskrit and Malayalam - is endemic to the Western Ghats. One species under this new genus, Karkata ghanarakta, was collected from Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary of Ernakulam district protected area, while the second species ‘Karkata kusumbha’ was reported from Mankulam of Idukki.
The study also recorded two new species of the genus Pilarta - Pilarta aroma and Pilarta punctatissima. The former, characterised by smooth or hairless carapace and clawed legs was reported from Pongalappara, Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserves in Thiruvananthapuram. The second species Pilarta punctatissima was discovered in Ovumkal, Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary.
Another species - Cylindrotelphusa longiphallus - was collected from Kuzhikattusseri, Thrissur, while Cylindrotelphusa breviphallus was recorded from Ponmudi here.
The Western Ghats is unique in its crab fauna with a great degree of endemism and the present discoveries reiterate this fact, said Samir Pati of Zoological Survey of India, Pune. The present discovery indicates the presence of many more species unknown to science in the Ghats region, said P M Sureshan, senior scientist, Zoological Survey of India, Kozhikode.
Authors of the study include S K Pati and P M Sureshan (Zoological Survey of India), L Rajesh, Smrithy Raj and Biju Kumar (University of Kerala) and V U Sheeja (Department of Zoology, Holy Cross College, Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu).