A new species of Tardigrada Doyère, 1840, Echiniscus pardalis n. sp., is described from two moss samples collected in the Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime (NW Italy). It belongs to the Echiniscus arctomys species-group, but differs from other 49 known members of the group mainly by the irregularly and distantly scattered deep pores on the plates and by a unique subsurface cuticular pattern on the plates, resembling that of a leopard’s fur. The new species is most similar to eight species from the arctomys group: E. barbarae Kaczmarek & Michalczyk, 2002, E. crebraclava Sun, Li & Feng, 2014, E. dearmatus Bartoš, 1935, E. mosaicus Grigarick, Schuster & Nelson, 1983, E. nigripustulus Horning, Schuster & Grigarick, 1978, E. nobilis Mihelčič, 1967, E. tardus Mihelčič, 1951 and E. vinculus Horning, Schuster & Grigarick, 1978. The differences between the new species and these eight species are thoroughly discussed. They mainly concern the presence/absence and relative size of shallow dimples surrounding individual tubercles, the relative length of cirrus A, the presence/absence of a spine on the first pair of legs, the presence/absence of a spur on the internal/external claws and the number of teeth on the collar of the hind legs. This paper is the first result published on Tardigrada collected during the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy’s in All Taxa Biodiversity Inventories+Monitoring programme.
Tardigrada, Heterotardigrada, Italy, Maritime Alps, Echiniscus arctomys group, new species.