Download high resolution image here.
I collected this proturan from a Berlese funnel loaded with a soil sample from about 10 inches down from the entrance of an animal burrow
, most likely that of a ground squirrel (common in the area) at 7447ft elevation about 10 ft from a flowing stream in a boggy area adjacent to the Cienga Canyon picnic grounds, Sandia Crest 7.5’ quadrangle
in the Sandia Mountains
, Bernalillo Co, NM. Animal burrows are one place proturans are known to be found
. I've found more probing the surrounding soil, though, so there may be nothing special about the burrow per se. According to a sign along a nature trail passing by the aforementioned boggy area, it is called "Cienega Meadow". The sign reads, "Cienega in Spanish means, 'A Wet Meadow.' Meadows in the forest sometimes are caused by the filling of beaver dams by sediment, but there are no beavers in the Sandia Mountains. This meadow was, at one time, a man-made pond storing water for small Spanish settlements. The pond eventually filled with sediment, forming this meadow."
I was unable to locate any records of Protura collected from New Mexico in Allen 2007(1)
, Szeptycki 2007(2)
, or elsewhere. Allen's abstract states, "Protura remain uncollected and unknown for many large geographical areas of North America." The Sandia/Manzano mountain range is isolated, and Protura tend to evolve isolated species, so it may be a new species. I attempted to key it with Ewing 1940(3)
, and have posted images here showing key features. ID's often require slide mounts, but my stacked images are pretty good, with numerical aperatures up to 0.9. The dorso-lateral view
shows 12 abdomenal segments, so it is an adult. I could not resolve meso or metathoratic spiracles, pectines on abdomenal segment VIII, transverse sutures or laterotergites on the terga, nor a labrum. These suggest Protentomidae. The vestigial leg on abdomenal Segment III may be showing two segments in the ventral view
, however. If so, this implies it is Eosentomidae. Expert ID is needed, though.
I notified Ernest C. Bernard
about my find. He replied in part, "Offhand I am not aware of any reports of Protura from New Mexico. Should you obtain some and desire to know more about them, I’d be pleased to work with you." And in a followup, "... I’m wondering if this specimen could indeed be a protentomid. The third image shows the abdominal legs, with the third one smaller than the first two. That plus the apparent lack of spiracles strongly suggests a protentomid. They are widespread in North America but rarely seen even by Protura standards."
I collected 7 more specimens at various stages of development ranging in length from 0.5 inch to 1.5 mm from soil collected in the immediate vicinity of the burrow on 05 JUN 2016. I placed them in 100% ETOH and will send them to Prof. Bernard for ID. I used flotation, per his suggestion, to isolate them. Four (4) attempts processing a total of 4 gallons of soil (averaging 1 gallon per load) with the Berlese funnel did not yield any more. Flotation yielded the 7 specimens from 8 1-pint loads. The procedure, described in Active search and collection equipment and techniques
, was adapted from one for isolating nemotodes
, but uses brine and gravity instead of (more viscous) sugar solution and a centrifuge.
The specimen was HMDS treated(4)
as a precaution to prevent shrivel.