New Insect Species From Kosovo Has Been Named After the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Even if humans can push back the memory of Covid-19 in the years after the pandemic is over, the fate for a new species of caddisfly is sealed to always remind us. A team of scientists have named a small caddisfly — native to a national park in Kosovo — after the Coronavirus pandemic. The Potamophylax coronavirus was collected near a stream in the Bjeshket e Nemuna National Park in Kosovo by the team led by Professor Halil Ibrahimi of the University of Prishtina. After molecular and morphological analyses, it was described as a caddisfly species, which is new to science in the peer-reviewed Biodiversity Data Journal. The insect has collected a few years ago from the river basin of the Lumbardhi i Decanit River. But the new species was described during the global pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2. Its name, P. coronavirus, will thus be an eternal memory of this difficult period, said the researchers.

The researchers also want to bring attention to “another silent pandemic occurring on freshwater organisms in Kosovo’s rivers,” caused by the pollution and degradation of freshwater habitats, as well as the activity increasing in recent years of mismanaged hydropower plants.

Particularly, the river basin of the Lumbardhi I Deçanit River, where the new species was discovered, has turned into a ‘battlefield’ for scientists and civil society on one side and the management of the hydropower plant operating on this river on the other.

The small insect order of Trichoptera, where P. coronavirus belongs, is very sensitive to water pollution and habitat deterioration. The authors of the new species argue that it is a small-scale endemic taxon, very sensitive to the ongoing activities in Lumbardhi i Deçanit river. Failure to understand this may drive this and many other species towards extinction reports News Medical Life Sciences.

Interestingly, in the same paper, the authors also identified a few other new species from isolated habitats in the Balkan Peninsula, which are awaiting description upon collection of further specimens. The Western Balkans and especially Kosovo, have proved to be an important hotspot of freshwater biodiversity. Several new insect species have been discovered there in the past few years.

(With inputs from IANS)

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