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Neodiaptomus prateek n. sp., a new freshwater copepod from Assam, India, with critical review of generic assignment of Neodiaptomus spp. and a note on diaptomid species richness (Calanoida: Diaptomidae)

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Neodiaptomus prateek n. sp. is described based on a plankton sample collected from Deepor Beel, a floodplain lake in the north-eastern, Indian state of Assam, which falls within the key biodiversity area of the Indo-Burma Hotspot. The new species fulfils all the principal criteria of the genus Neodiaptomus Kiefer, 1932, as revised by Kiefer (1939). It has, however, a spectacular autapomorphic feature, which is perhaps unparalleled in Diaptomidae as a whole – a massive coxal plate ending in a thumb-like spinulose structure on the caudal surface of the male left P5. The new taxon also has two homoplastic characters that are hitherto unknown within the genus: the female fourth pediger has a prominent mid-dorsal process, and the third endopodal segment of P2-P4 has six instead of seven setae, the proximal outer seta being absent. The affinities of the new species with its congeners are discussed. Furthermore, the generic assignment of all the 13 species of Neodiaptomus listed in the latest World Copepoda database (Walter, 2012) is critically reviewed. Of these, five species are recognised as valid, six are relegated to species inquirendae, and one each is a nomen dubium and a synonym. Two lineage groups are recognised within the genus, one belonging to Southeast Asia and the other mostly confined to India. Surprisingly, the new species was accompanied by a record number of seven other diaptomid species in the same sample; the probable biogeographic and ecological implications of this high species richness are briefly discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Nagarjunanagar 522 510, India

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