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Correspondence

Subject: New Neelid for the UK and Irish List Preliminary notice, 21.02.2007.

From: Keith Brocklehurst.
Date: Wed, 28 February 2007

On 16.6.2006 during a visit to Hay Wood in Warwickshire (O.S.Sh.139 SP 206 709), a collection of surface soil and litter, which included pieces of decaying bark, was made from near an old oak (Quercus robur). The photographs below were taken in March 2007.









The collection was left in polythene bags in my garage for 4 weeks before extracting with a tüllgren funnel. A good mixture of mites and springtails resulted including Neanura muscorum, Onychiurids, Isotomurus sp. and lots of other small isotomids. Also present was quite a population of tiny pinkish springtails not more than 0.4 mm long. These obviously belonged to the family Neelidae because of their short antennae, their 'hunched-up' appearance, fusion of segments, and their characteristic 'go-stop-turn' walk. They were viewed with a Meiji EMZ-8TR stereomicroscope at x10.5 to x101.25 magnification using a x1.5 supplementary lens. Still images and short videoclips were recorded of the dorsal pigmentation pattern, which was something I had never before seen in a neelid. The yellow symmetric cross, which extended back from thoracic segment 1 into the abdominal region, and numerous small blocks of yellow pigment on either side were distinctive. Otherwise the body region was a dark reddish colour.



At the lowest magnifications, and especially when they were moving, their bodies appeared overall pinkish, but once still, their pigment patterns were sharp and clear.



I sent some still images to Frans Janssens in Antwerp for comment. He kindly searched in his extensive global web site at http://www.collembola.org and found Prof. E.C.Bernard's image 552.htm (now converted to .jpg format) of a preserved specimen from Knoxville, Tenessee. Frans and I have no doubt that the pigmentation patterns are near identical to those from Hay Wood. I have since been in e-mail contact with Prof. Bernard and sent images from Hay Wood.



If this neelid from Hay Wood is a Megalothorax sp., which seems likely, it could be a new UK / Irish species. So I am seriously collecting again in Hay Wood, and this time, to make permanent mounts in euparal for full and proper recording of microscopical details. Then I should be able to decide whether or not they belong to the genus Megalothorax. Meanwhile, if anyone finds further specimens of this patterned neelid I should like to hear from them.





The specimens which died after 3 days on the water surface may well provide a nice mounted layout of microscopical features of these tiny hexapods provided they can be dehydrated and mounted without damage and distortion. It was pure chance that I neglected them and probably fortunate I saw them before they disintegrated.



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