The discovery was certified and published in an international academic journal called ‘ZooKeys’ back in October 2018, and officially confirmed on Monday after a lengthy verification process to ensure that the newly discovered species were indeed the first of their kind.
The new species were originally discovered by Dr Phuripong Meksuwan, biology lecturer at Phuket Rajabhat University, along with Professor Supiyanit Maiphae of Kasetsart University, Bangkok, and PhD student Rapeepan Jaturapruek.
“Plankton is a small creature that cannot be seen with the naked eye. It floats in natural water sources,” Dr Phuripong explained.
The two Limnias species were found in small ecosystems in streams located in Ao Luek District in Krabi and the Pik Jig Forest Area in Mai Khao, Phuket.
Limnias novemceras and Limnias lenis are rotifers found on the roots of aquatic plants such as the water hyacinth and water lettuce, and are measured in micrometres – µm (1/1000th of a millimeter).
Rotifers are small zooplankton that occur in freshwater, brackish, and marine environments. They feed on microalgae and are consumed by a wide variety of fish, shellfish, corals and other organisms making them an important food source in aquatic ecosystems.
The findings highlight the diversity of the biological resources in the Andaman region.
Dr Phuripong raised concerns about Phuket’s rapid development which threatens such important creatures as well as yet undiscovered organisms. He stressed that “The issue of natural land allocation and management together with ecological preservation requires the participation of the public sector and cooperation of all sectors.”
“Such information should not only be used as education in classrooms. We conduct research on issues that are beneficial to communities in our area of responsibility (Andaman) as it is a form of modern education management and should be used to aid sustainable development,” he added.
In 2016 a new species of lizard was discovered in the jungles of central Phuket (see story here) as well as new species of snake and gecko.