A new species of blind weevil discovered in the Canary Islands

Researchers from the Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology of the CSIC Carmelo Andújar and Heriberto López have participated in the discovery of a new species of blind weevil belonging to Oromia, a genus endemic to the Canary Islands.

The new species has been named Oromia orahan, in reference to Orahan, the supreme god worshipped by the aborigines who inhabited the island of La Gomera before the conquest. The species has been discovered in the laurel forests of the Garajonay National Park (Monte de Los Acebiños and Reventón Oscuro), on the island of La Gomera. It is a species that lives underground in a shallow environment known as MSS, made up of a rocky layer full of cracks and interstices in which a rich invertebrate fauna adapted to life underground lives. With this discovery, the number of Oromia taxa discovered in the Islands rises to four species, all of them blind and adapted to a life restricted to the underground.

The article "Oromia orahan (Curculionidae, Molytinae), a new subterranean species for the Canarian underground biodiversity", published in the scientific journal Subterranean Biology, describes the morphological characteristics of the specimens captured of this new species, almost all of them characteristic of an underground lifestyle: they are blind, with elongated and flat bodies, slightly depigmented. It is also believed that this weevil feeds on roots, as do the rest of the species in this genus, since most of the specimens studied were captured with underground traps installed near the base of large laurel trees, where roots are abundant.

The team of researchers behind this study is completed by the Canarian entomologist Rafael García and Pedro Oromí, professor of entomology at the University of La Laguna. The authors belong to a small group of researchers who have been actively working for decades to make known the scarcely studied biodiversity of the Canary Islands' underground environment, which, contrary to what might be expected, is very rich and diverse. The active search for invertebrates in the different underground habitats of the Canary Islands not only allows the discovery of new species, but also provides data on the distribution of some rare or little-known species. The incorporation of precise information about the distribution of these species in databases such as the Canary Islands Biodiversity Bank is of great importance. After consulting these databases, the actions taken by local governments in natural areas may consider the underground species that reside there, a type of fauna that is particularly sensitive to the transformation of their habitats. In the case of Oromia orahan, this new species enjoys the privilege of residing in a National Park, so, protected by the conservation status of its area of distribution, the possible threats that could put its populations at risk are scarce.

Read the scientific paper here.

Oromia orohan