Acuinuga. Acuicultura y Nutrición de Galicia


22-05-15 |

A new crustacean species for Galicia

A group of scientists from the University of Vigo and the Australian Museum have found a new species of crustacean endemic to Galicia in the inlet of O Grove (Pontevedra) and have named it Uromunna naherba. It belongs to the Isopod order (Peracarida suborder), the most diverse of the crustaceans.

These peracarida are found in all types of environments, especially marine ones, although there are also land and freshwater species. Uromunna naherba measures between 0.6 mm and 1.5 mm in length and lives between the leaves and in the rhizomes (underground stems) of eelgrass beds.
One peculiarity of the peracarida is that no stage of their life cycle is dispersive. This means that at no point does the animal cover large distances, whether to colonise new habitats or to find new substratum. This species that does not swim, but walks along the bottom of the sea on both algae and plants.

All of this, added to it being a small species with limited movements means that it is prone to speciation, and endemism regularly occurs. As they cannot move far in a short space of time, the individuals of the population reproduce amongst themselves, preventing the interbreeding with other populations. Genetic mutations are thus spread rapidly within the local populations but do not extend to populations further away. Over time, a particular population accumulates so many mutations that differentiates it from other populations, favouring the speciation process.

According to the FAO, world output of crustacean aquaculture stands at 7,000 MT or approximately 10% of total aquaculture tonnage, representing however 22% of the farmed value. With a steady annual growth rate of 11% for the past decade, crustacean aquaculture has become one of the fastest growing animal production industries in the world, led by the production of shrimps and prawns (Penaeus, Macrobrachium)

Although there has been a tremendous leap in production over the past decade, crustacean aquaculture is still lagging significantly behind other agro and aqua farming industries in assimilation of advanced biotechnologies capable of enhancing production yields and value. Crustaceans are produced not only for human consumption but also as a source of valuable bioproducts such as chitin, chitosan, glucosamine, asthaxantin, etc.  

In spite of the trade volume of crustacean species in the Spanish Northwest, reaching 1,000 MT in 2014 with a total estimated value of 16M€, currently there are no entrepreneurial aquaculture projects involving crustacean species in Galicia. Lately there have been important technical advances for the cultivation of commercially relevant species such as the velvet crab (Necora puber), the spider crab (Maja squinado), the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus), the common prawn (Palaemon serratus), the brown crab (Cancer pagurus), the goose neck barnacle (Pollicipes pollicipes), the European lobster (Homarus gammarus), the deep sea red crab (Chaceon affinis), the spiny lobster (Palinurus elephas) or the locust lobster (Scyllarus arctus).