» » Freshwater mollusks helped clarify the boundaries of the regions of Southeast Asia

Freshwater mollusks helped clarify the boundaries of the regions of Southeast Asia

Freshwater mollusks helped clarify the boundaries of the regions of Southeast Asia

Researchers at the Federal Research Center for the Integrated Arctic Studies of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences summed up the results of six years of expeditions in Southeast Asia. During this time, scientists managed to discover 12 new species of freshwater mollusks, four of which were identified for the first time. The authors described their results in an article in the journal Scientific Reports.

Southeast Asia is a region that is rich in endemic animal species. However, unlike other representatives of the fauna, local endemics are poorly studied. There are still many undiscovered species and even genera of living creatures in this area. In order to get rid of these “white spots”, Russian researchers with colleagues from museums in Europe and the USA conducted a series of expeditions from 2012 to 2018 to Myanmar, Thailand, and Northern Laos. As a result, they discovered 12 species and four genera of freshwater mollusks, previously unknown to science.

Most of the species described were found in inaccessible places. For example, the northern part of Rakhine State in Myanmar is closed to most foreigners. In this area there is practically no population, it is separated by mountain ranges from the main part of the country. It was there, in inaccessible small rivers, that scientists were able to find a significant part of the new species and genera that are locally distributed in Southeast Asia. Their discovery allowed scientists to expand their understanding of the taxonomy of the family of freshwater mollusks unionions (Unionidae).

As a result, researchers were able to clarify the boundaries of the biogeographic regions of Southeast Asia. “The division into the Indian biogeographic subregion and the West Indochinese is accepted, but the boundaries between them were previously unclear. We used unionized mollusks to reconstruct ancient compounds between freshwater basins throughout Asia, ”says Ivan Bolotov, lead author of the study, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, director of the FITSIA Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. - We showed the role of the isthmus of Kra, which connects the Malacca Peninsula with the Asian continent. Millions of years ago there was a sea strait dividing land. This strait played the role of a barrier to the exchange of species between the fauna of Western Indochina and Sundalanda. "

Scientists have found that freshwater mollusks of Southeast Asia developed mainly in three evolutionary foci - in Western Indochina, Sundalanda and East Asia. Some species migrated several million years ago from the Indian subcontinent. Globally, unionides are endangered species of fauna. The authors of the new work associate the extinction of freshwater mollusks with the anthropogenic impact on their natural environment, the impact of industry on water bodies, as well as global climate change. In addition, according to scientists, alien species are also dangerous for Unionidae.

29 апрель 2020 /
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