Mayaweckelia cenoticola Holsinger, 1977
Mayaweckelia cenoticola: after Holsinger, 1977
Taxonomic Characterization: Small to medium-sized amphipod without
eyes or pigment. Antenna 1 is as long or slightly longer than the body. Distal
10-12 flagellar segments of antenna 1 with aesthetascs (1 each); pereopod 6 up
to 15% longer than pereopod 7; dactyls of pereopods 5-7 with row of fine setae
(pubescence) on distal half of upper margin and 2 sets of setae each on lower
margin (Holsinger, 1990). Characterized by the absence of mandibular palps and a
second (terminal) segment on the outer ramus of uropod 3. Lacks basofacial
spines on uropod 1.
Disposition of Specimen: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, catalog numbers USNM 151181; Museum of Texas Tech University; and the private collection of John Holsinger.
Ecological Classification: Stygobitic
Size: Adult males are up to 4.0 mm in length, while largest adult females are 6.0 mm
Number of Species in Genus: Two, both stygobitic.
Species Range: Recorded in many caves in Yucatan, Campeche and
Quintana Roo. Collection sites in Quintana Roo included: Carwash Cenote, Cenote
de San Martin, Cueva de Tancah, Cenote de Las Ruinas, and Cenote de Santa
Domingo (Holsinger, 1990); Yucatan sites include Cenote Xtacagiha and Cueva de
Orizaba. Rocha et al., 2000 reported M. cenoticola from Grutas de Santa
Maria and Grutas de Tzab-Nah, both in Yucatan.
Closest Related Species: Mayaweckelia cenoticola closely resembles M. yucatanensis, known from a single cave in the state of Campeche.
Habitat: Freshwater and anchialine limestone caves
Ecology: Mayaweckelia is predominantly a freshwater inhabitant, and only three of its eleven known populations are recorded from cave waters that are, at most, slightly brackish. In Carwash Cenote, it was found with Tuluweckelia cernua. Initial collections came from small pools isolated from water bodies in the caves (Holsinger, 1977).
Life History: A strongly skewed sexual ratio favoring females may be present for this species.
Evolutionary Origins: Mayaweckelia is related to both Mexiweckelia and Hadzia but differs from these genera in several important ways. It has taxonomic affinities with marine forms and inhabits caves situated between the Pliocene and Pleistocene shorelines of Yucatan. Holsinger (1977, 1990) concluded from this that Mayaweckelia originated from a marine ancestor by "stranding" in newly developing freshwater habitats following the regression of sea water during the late Tertiary or early Quaternary times.
Conservation Status: Widely distributed in freshwater and anchialine caves from Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche, Mexico.
Contributor: John Holsinger, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA
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