The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

Description before extinction. Two new species of giant pill-millipedes.



Quick facts

Project title: 
Description before Extinction. The status of two species of giant pill-millipedes on Madagascar endemic to forests under anthropogenic pressure.
ZFMK Project lead: 
Object of research: 
Riesenkugler, Animals, Barcoding, Bedrohte Arten, Conservation, Diplopoda, Endemiten, endemic, giant pill-millipede, Madagaskar, Millipedes, Kugler, Millipedes, Taxonomy


On Madagascar, the destruction of natural habitats is one of the main drivers of the "biodiversity crisis", an unprecedented extinction wave.  In the course of this student project, two new species of giant pill-millipedes from an endagered forest habitat wiIl be integratively described in the course of a 6-week class in the International Master OEP program of the University of Bonn.

The student will do dissections and prepare samples for an integrative taxonomic description of two species of giant pill-millipedes from Madagascar, including drawings, DNA extraction, scanning electron microscopy, and micro-CT scans. The student will be required to thoroughly research the methods and suggest alternatives or modifications of the procedure to improve the results. The student will critically evaluate and edit all of the results obtained by the morphological and molecular analyses. The sequences obtained as well as the morphological characters illustrated within this project will be analysed to assess the status of the two potentially new species of the giant pill-millipede genus Zoosphaerium from Madagascar. The student will learn how to use modern software and methods of sequence analyses.In addition to the molecular analyses, the student will examine the morphology of several samples. This involves measuring and counting several key characters and a comparison with data from recent publications.The student will analyse the habitat and potential IUCN RedList categories of the species as well. Finally, the student will critically interpret the results in the light of previously published data and write a protocol/article draft.