Contributions to Zoology, 86 (2) – 2017Roberto Guidetti; Sandra J. McInnes; Michele Cesari; Lorena Rebecchi; Omar Rota-Stabelli: Evolutionary scenarios for the origin of an Antarctic tardigrade species based on molecular clock analyses and biogeographic data
Origin and distribution of Mopsechiniscus

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Biogeographical distribution and ecology of Mopsechiniscus species

Reports of Mopsechiniscus species are largely confined to the Southern Hemisphere, with the most northern reference to be found for Costa Rica, and the majority of references from South America (Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile), southern Australia, sub-Antarctic, and continental Antarctica (Fig. 1). In particular, four of the six described species are considered endemic and have been found only in the type localities: Mopsechiniscus imberbis (Richters, 1907) from South Georgia, sub-Antarctic (Richters, 1907, 1920; Ottesen and Meier, 1990); Mopsechiniscus franciscae from Victoria Land, Antarctica (Guidetti et al., 2014); Mopsechiniscus tasmanicus Dastych and Moscal, 1992 from Tasmania, Australia (Dastych and Moscal, 1992); and Mopsechiniscus frenoti Dastych, 1999, from the Île de la Possession, Crozet Islands, sub-Antarctic (Dastych, 1999c). Mopsechiniscus schusteri Dastych, 1999 has been reported from Venezuela (Grigarick et al., 1983; Dastych, 1999a) and Costa Rica (Kaczmarek et al., 2014); and Mopsechiniscus granulosus Mihelčič, 1967 has been reported from several Argentinean localities (Mihelčič, 1967, 1971/72; Binda and Kristensen, 1986; Kristensen, 1987; Rossi and Claps, 1989; Dastych, 2000; Rossi et al., 2009; Roszkowska et al., 2016) and Chile (Ramazzotti, 1962; Dastych and Moscal, 1992; Dastych, 2000). According to Dastych (1999a, 2001), there are two more undescribed new species from Brazil (Du Bois-Reymond Marcus, 1944), and Chile. The distribution of Mopsechiniscus species point to a Gondwanan distribution for the genus, as has already been hypothesized (Dastych and Moscal, 1992; Dastych, 2001).

However, ecological data on Mopsechiniscus species are very limited (see Dastych, 2001). The species of this genus have been found in moss and lichens, rarely liverworts, at different altitudes. An association with environments rich in Nothofagus forests has also been noted (Ramazzotti, 1962; Kristensen, 1987; Dastych & Moscal, 1992). In sub-Antarctic islands, Mospechiniscus was found at 70-700 m a.s.l., in Tierra del Fuego at ca. 1000 m (above the tree line), in subtropical and/or cloud forest from 50 m up to 2000 m, suggesting a mountain and/or subpolar character of the genus (Dastych, 2001). The Antarctic species (M. franciscae) used in this study was found in a large patch of moss growing on gravel soil in a very small valley at Crater Cirque (Guidetti et al., 2014), while the South American species (M. granulosus) was collected at Angol in Chile, though the original substrate was not reported (Jørgensen et al., 2011).