Researchers from Berhampur University in Odisha, India, have unveiled a groundbreaking discovery – a previously unknown species of marine amphipod belonging to the genus Demaorchestia. Named Demaorchestia alanensis in honor of global expert Professor Alan Myers from University College Cork, Ireland, the new crustacean has added to the diversity of the genus, bringing the global count to six species.
Shesdev Patro, Assistant Professor at the Department of Marine Science, Berhampur University, explained that the team of three researchers identified the new species through an extensive study. The findings were detailed in an article titled “A new species of amphipod of the genus Demaorchestia (Senticaudata, Talitridae) from Chilika Lagoon, east coast India,” published on December 11, 2023, in the online edition of the journal Zootaxa.
The discovery involved the collection of eight specimens from Barkul beach in Ganjam district, Odisha, along the shores of Chilika Lake in January 2022. Gitanjali Bhoi, a research scholar and co-author of the article, noted that the specimens underwent rigorous testing in the university laboratory, confirming their uniqueness compared to the other five known species globally.
The specimens have been deposited at the Zoological Survey of India’s Estuarine Biology Regional Centre in Gopalpur-on-Sea, Odisha, for further research, as mentioned by Lipika Tarafdar, another researcher and the third co-author.
Key characteristics of the newly discovered crustacean include its white color, length of less than 15 millimeters, and 13 pairs of legs. Three pairs are adapted for swimming, eight for walking on land, and the remaining two for capturing prey and feeding, according to Patro.
Distinguishing features, such as two to three strong, hair-like structures on the anterior margin of the propodus of the gnathopod, set this species apart within the Platorchestiinae subfamily found along the Indian coast.
Highlighting the ecological importance of amphipods in marine ecosystems, Patro emphasized their role in the marine food chain and their significance as indicators for studying the impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems. The researchers plan to conduct further studies to deepen their understanding of the specific ecological roles of amphipods in coastal and marine environments.
Additionally, Patro and Bhoi had previously discovered two other marine amphipods, Quadrivisio Chilikensis and Talorchestia buensis, further underscoring the rich biodiversity of India’s coastal regions.