The tardigrade fauna of the African continent is reviewed and presented graphically
using Worldmap, a Geographical Information System (GIS) developed for exploring geographical
diversity patterns in large biological datasets. References to the African tardigrade fauna
have been gathered from published literature and supplemented with unpublished species
information from the collection of Prof. Reinhardt M. Kristensen (RMK), Zoological Museum,
University of Copenhagen. 156 species belonging to 36 genera of tardigrades are present.
They consist of 105 eutardigrade species and 51 heterotardigrade species, of which 42 species
are semiterrestrial and 9 species are marine. The presence of tardigrades are [sic] reported
from 20 countries, but of these 9 are represented by a single reference. Marine tardigrades
in particular have been neglected, with only a single report from the shores of the African
continent. Data from the RMK collection of samples from Egypt is included in the analysis.
The scattered and sparse knowledge of the African tardigrade distribution makes general
conclusions difficult, but emphasises the large regions which require further investigation.
The current distribution patterns corresponds with easy accessible or "tourist" locations.
Regions where GIS could be used to illustrate ecological preferences are also pointed out
by the analysis. Isohypsibius malawiensis sp. n. is described from Lake Malawi.
It has a smooth body surface and lacks eyes. The heteronych claws are without lunulae, but
below the claws a double arched cuticular bar is present. The dorsal and ventral apophyses
of the buccal tube have a large drop- shaped swelling. The first macroplacoid is the largest
followed by the second, which is only slightly larger than the thirds microplacoid is absent.
Males are smaller than females. Females lay only one to two very large eggs in the exuvium.
The Malpighian tubules are clover-shaped. The new species is interstitial in coarse sediment
and no other tardigrade species were present.