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Integrative taxonomic studies of Neotropical land planarians (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida), with emphasis on the Brazilian and Chilean diversity, and their areas of endemisms in the Atlantic Forest

Grant number: 19/12357-7
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: May 01, 2020 - April 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Taxonomy of Recent Groups
Principal Investigator:Fernando Jesús Carbayo Baz
Grantee:Fernando Jesús Carbayo Baz
Home Institution: Escola de Artes, Ciências e Humanidades (EACH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Luis Americo Conti ; Marcio Bernardino da Silva ; Marta Riutort León

Abstract

With over 900 known species, land planarians, or Geoplanidae (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida), are typically forest-floor dwellers. With a low vagility and a high sensitivity to dessication, they are a good model for applied studies. Land planarians recently entered the debate on the recognition of areas of endemism, and the historical causes shaping these areas in the Atlantic forest. In recent years, considerable progress has been made regarding knowledge on the diversity of these organisms. However, evident gaps still exist in this aspect. Alpha-diversity in the group is, at least, two times higher, considering, only, a preliminary examination of ca. 3.900 specimens collected by the author of this project in Brazil (mainly between the estates of Espírito Santo and Rio Grande do Sul) and Chile. The monophyly of 16 of the 24 current genera of Geoplaninae is acknowledged. Diagnoses of some genera are ambiguous and deficient, specially of the genera endemic to Chile. A case of non-monophyly pointed out in the literature, which still is unsolved, is that of the so-called clade LIS. This clade includes a monotypic genus, a paraphyletic genus, and a third, polyphyletic genus.This project will contribute to the knowledge of the diversity, systematics and biogeography of Neotropical land planarians by means of (a) the integrative taxonomy of ca. 20 new species, from Brazil and Chile; (b) a taxonomic revision of the clade LIS; and (c) a survey of areas of endemisms in the Atlantic forest. Up-to-date tools for analysis and comparison of morphological and molecular data, from specimens already collected and newly ones to be collected in Bahia and Pernambuco, will be applied. Areas of endemism will be explored in forest areas, ranging from Pernambuco to Rio Grande do Sul. The results will foster a better comprehension of the diversification of Geoplanidae in the Neotropics and the historical causes of their geographic distribution. This project will also contribute to consolidate current collaborations with associated researchers to academic qualification of three graduate students in the field of planarian systematics and endemicity, and two undergraduate students in hisotlogical and molecular techniques. (AU)