Potamonautes danielsi Peer & Gouws

Peer, Nasreen, Gouws, Gavin, Lazo-Wasem, Eric, Perissinotto, Renzo & Miranda, Nelson A. F., 2017, Redescription of Potamonautessidneyi (Rathbun, 1904) (Decapoda, Potamonautidae) and description of a new congeneric species from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, ZooKeys 657, pp. 1-28 : 9-17

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Potamonautes danielsi Peer & Gouws

sp. n.

Potamonautes danielsi Peer & Gouws View in CoL sp. n.

Type series.

Holotype: male, CL = 18.5 mm (Table 1), mountain stream running into the Mtamvuna River, Mtamvuna Nature Reserve (31°03'31.60"S, 30°10'26.11"E; elevation 140 m), 18 November 2015, N. Miranda and N. Peer legit (SAMC A83487).

Allotype: female, CL = 22.8 mm (Table 1), collection details as per holotype (SAMC A83488).

Paratypes: (Table 1) collection data same as above, SAMC A83489 (1 ♂, 1 ♀); collection data same as above, NMMU (2 ♀); Umhlanga Nature Reserve, SAMC A83490 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), 29°42'13"S, 31°05'27"E, 28 January 2013, N. Miranda and N. Peer legit; Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, SAMC A83491 (2 ♂), 30°40'55"S, 30°18'26"E, 30 January 2013, N. Peer and J. Raw legit. Mvoti River (Makabeleni), SAM A43970 (1 ♂), CWW = 53 mm, 29°14'45"S, 30°56'15"E, coll. M. Coke on 09 Nov 1995; Pongola Bush Nature Reserve, SAM A41984 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 46 mm (♂), 47 mm (♀), 27°19'40"S, 30°29'15"E, coll. M. Coke and M. Protheroe on 05 Apr 1995; Mvoti River ( ‘Canema’ below falls), SAM A43966 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 36 mm (♂), 51 mm (♀), 29°10'00"S, 30°41'15"E, coll. M. Coke and M. Peters on 02 May 1996; Mtamvuna Nature Reserve, SAM A44982 (1 ♂), CWW = 40 mm, 31°02.704'S 30°10.080'E, coll. S. van Noort on 10 Nov 2000; Nwaku River (D356 Causeway near Nwaku Store), SAM A43974 (2 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 69 mm (♂), 55 mm (♀), 28°56'35"S, 31°23'50"E, coll. M. Coke on 19 Aug 1997; Umhlanga Nature Reserve, SAM A41179 (1 ♀), CWW = 41 mm, 29°42'40"S, 31°05'35"E, coll. M. Coke on 04 Aug 1994; Pandana River (Schuilhoek, near Luneburg), SAM A41976 (1 ♂), CWW = 30 mm, 27°23'22"S, 30°30'55"E, coll. M. Coke on 20 jan 1995; Giant’s Castle (Path to Bannerman’s Hut), SAM A44178 (1 ♀), coll. M. Hamer on 27 Mar 1995; CWW = 35 mm, Spartelspruit (above D251 Bridge), SAM A43952 (1 ♂), CWW = 62 mm, 27°50'02"S, 30°32'45"E, coll. M. Coke on 07 Sep 1997; Pandana River (Welbedacht, near Luneburg), SAM A41970 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 52 mm (♂), 42 mm (♀), 27°22'40"S, 30°34'30"E, coll. M. Coke on 20 Jan 1995; Nuwejaarspruit tributary (Oliviershoek Pass summit, near waterfall, Drifters Inn), SAM A43944 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 39 mm (♂), 40 mm (♀), 28°33'25"S, 29°03'21"E, coll. B.A Stewart, P.A Cook, l. Hoenson and G. Gouws on 21 Jan 1997; Mfongosi (Zululand), SAM A41100 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 37 mm (♂), 45 mm (♀),coll. W.C. Jones on May 1918; Mzinto River (Esperanza Bridge, near Umzinto), SAM A43946 (1 ♀), CWW = 40 mm, 30°20'28"S, 30°58'50"E, coll. Coke and Murray on 14 Jan 1998; Mgeni River (causeway near Nagle Dam), SAM A41968 (2 ♂), CWW = 65, 51 mm, 29°39'10"S, 30°41'10"E, coll. M. Coke and J. Craigie on 11 May 1995; Phongolo River (Rivierplaats, Luneburg), SAM A41969 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 49 mm (♂), 55 mm (♀), 27°21'10"S, 30°27'13"E, coll. M. Coke on 19 Jan 1995; Greytown pond, SAM A41972 (1 ♂), CWW = 53 mm, 29°04'03"S, 30°35'25"E, coll. M. Coke on 10 Jan 1995; Mlaas River (Maybole, near Baynesfield), SAM A41971 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 40 mm (♂), 41 mm (♀), 29°44'20"S, 30°15'22"E, coll. M. Coke on 07 Mar 1995; Tsakwe River (Protest, near Kempslust), SAM A41962 (1 ♂), CWW = 38 mm, 27°27'00"S, 30°31'15"E, coll. M. Coke on 20 Jan 1995; Mbango River (Port Shepstone), SAM A43945 (1 ♀), CWW = 44 mm, 30°45'05"S, 30°26'40"E, coll. M. Coke on 14 Mar 1996; Umgababa River (below dam wall), SAM A43947 (1 ♀), CWW = 59 mm, 30°08'52"S, 30°48'52"E, coll. J. Craigie on 02 Oct 1997; Inzimuke River (Utrecht), SAM A43953 (1 ♂), CWW = 33 mm, 27°37'47"S, 30°21'35"E, coll. Coke and Murray on 26 Jan 1998; Upper Bouthosloop (near Mount Carmel), AM GEN246A (1 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 35 mm (♂), 25°24'00"S, 30°43'48"E, coll. unknown on 21 Nov 1959; Nkonzo and Mzimkulu Rivers (Underbush Farm, near Creighton), AM GEN837 (2 ♂), CWW = 39, 50 mm, 29°58'12"S, 29°48'36"E, coll. C. Arter on 04 Oct 1988; Nkonzo River (at Nxumeni River confluence), AM GEN842 (1 ♂, 1 ♀), CWW = 46 mm (♂), 29°58'48"S, 29°51'00"E, coll. C. Arter on 04 Oct 1988; Mgeweni River (at Mgeni River confluence), AM GEN908 (1 ♂), CWW = 47 mm, 29°39'36"S, 30°40'48"E, coll. C. Dickens and M. Coke on 04 Jan 1991.


Potamonautes danielsi exhibits smooth to lightly granulated carapace flanks and epibranchial regions compared to those of Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. which often display a pronounced scabrosity and heavy granulation. The anterolateral margin is straight and complete. Potamonautes danielsi has long slender pereopods and the propodi of the chelipeds are inflated in contrast to the stout pereopods and slim propodi of Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. Potamonautes danielsi has a low terminal segment length:subterminal segment length ratio of gonopod 1 compared to that of Potamonautes sidneyi s. str.

Description of holotype.

Carapace (Figs 7A, C, 9B). Cephalothorax flat (CH/CL = 0.49), wide (CWW/CL = 1.34), almost rectangular in frontal aspect. Branchial region flat forming angle with anterolateral margin. Anterior margin straight, smooth with occasional faint granulation. Urogastric, cervical and intestinal grooves well-defined; cardiac and branchial grooves well-defined where attached to urogastric and cervical grooves, becoming poorly defined and faint towards edge of carapace. Epigastric lobes poorly defined above postfrontal crest; two slight indentations present, forked from midpoint of postfrontal crest. Postfrontal crest slightly granulated at branchial region, straight and distinct from epibranchial region to midpoint, curving downward at epibranchial region. Exorbital teeth present; no epibranchial teeth present. Flank of carapace scabrous, well-defined epimeral sutures dividing pterygostomial region from subhepatic and suborbital regions, well-defined pleural groove dividing subhepatic region from suborbital region.

Sternites (Fig. 7B). Sternites 1 and 2 fused, first sulcus (s1/s2) absent. Second sulcus (s2/s3) prominent, running completely across sternum, third sulcus (s3/s4) projecting downwards medially to abdominopelvic region. Sulci and episternal sulci thereafter well-defined but shallow.

Third maxillipeds (Fig. 7C, 8E). Filling entire buccal frame except for oval respiratory openings medially above maxilliped. Ischium scabrous, with wide groove running vertically. Flagellum on exopod very long, curved to form a loop.

Mandibular palp (Fig. 8C, D). Consisting of two segments; terminal segment smooth and undivided, with hirsute margins; dense tuft of setae emerging from base. Subterminal segment enlarged distally then compressed at joint with terminal segment.

Pereopods (Figs 7A, B, 8A, B). No substantial heterochely (CRDL/CLDL = 1.04). Dactyl of major cheliped slightly arched; small slim interspace formed when closed in major and minor chelipeds. Twenty-five cutting teeth present on dactyl of major cheliped; 4 larger and more prominent than the rest. Propodus inflated (CRPW/CRPL = 0.46), exhibiting 20 cutting teeth. Carpus on either side containing one prominent tooth followed by one small tooth. Meri strongly granulated at margins. Pereopods 2 (ML/MW = 2.59) and 5 (ML/MW = 2.66) moderately slender; pereopods 3 and 4 equal in length and longest among pereopods; pereopod 5 shortest. Ventral margins of meri smooth; ventral margins of propodi serrated; dorsal margins of meri and propodi bearing fine bristles; dactyli serrated, ending in sharp points.

Pleon (Figs 6B, 7B). Somites 1-6 four-sided with distally-rounded triangular terminal somite (telson). First 5 somites broad and short; somite 6 longer, about 1.6 times as wide as long, distal margins straight or slightly concave, lateral margins slanted towards medial line, lateral margins swell slightly at articulation with somite 5; telson terminally rounded, lateral margins concave, swell at articulation with somite 6; hirsute lateral margins

Pleopods (Fig. 8F, G, H, I). Gonopod 1 widest at base; both subterminal and terminal segments tapering, ending with sharp point. Medial margin fairly straight; lateral margin concave relative to midline; both margins hirsute. Groove extending to almost entire length of gonopod, visible on dorsal surface, lined with setae. Gonopod 1 terminal segment short (0.21 times length of subterminal segment), curving away from midline when viewed dorsally. Gonopod 2 consisting of two segments. Distal segment very long (0.67 times length of basal segment), slim; basal segment with wide elongated base sharply becoming narrow around 0.4 of length; narrow process forming at this point leading to distal segment. Gonopod 2 fairly straight, barely curving outward when viewed ventrally; curving slightly inward towards medial line at tips of distal segment.

Variation. The species appears to be extremely variable, with the northernmost Mhlanga population more closely resembling Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. rather than the Potamonautes danielsi sp. n. holotype. The epibranchial corners of the Mhlanga type are scabrous and granulated. Granulation, however, is not as pronounced as in Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. and no fine hairs are observed on the carapace. The terminal segments of both gonopods in the Mhlanga type are also more curved (typical of Potamonautes sidneyi s. str.), as opposed to straight (typical of Potamonautes danielsi ). The flagellum on the exopod of the third maxilliped is highly variable. In the Mtamvuna population, the flagellum is long and curves backward to form a loop in some specimens. In both the Oribi and Mhlanga populations this is not seen. Instead, the flagellum curves upwards, similar to the pattern observed in most other potamonautid species.

Live colouration. Variable. Carapace colour ranges from purple to reddish-brown to greenish-brown. Carapace and pereopods are fairly uniform in colour with tips of dactyli and chelipeds usually displaying a lighter orange colour.


Currently known to extend from Mhlanga (Durban North) to the Mtamvuna River on the northern border of Pondoland (southern KZN), based on recent sampling and the results published in Gouws et al. (2015). Morphological examination of museum specimens shows that this species is also present in the Mpumalanga Province.

Holotype locality.

South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal: Mtamvuna Nature Reserve (31°00'23"S, 30°09'12"E).


The species is named after Professor Savel Daniels in recognition of his valuable contribution to knowledge of freshwater crabs in southern Africa.


Potamonautes danielsi sp. n. is easily distinguished from most other South African Potamonautes species. Potamonautes dentatus Stewart, Coke & Cook, 1995, Potamonautes parvispina Stewart, 1997, Potamonautes unispinus Stewart & Cook, 1998, Potamonautes warreni Calman, 1918 and Potamonautes calcaratus (Gordon, 1929) all bear dentate anterolateral margins or epibranchial corners (cf. Stewart et al. 1995: figs 1, 2J; cf. Stewart 1997: figs 2A, 8, 9A; cf. Stewart and Cook 1998: figs 2A, 2D, 6, 7A; cf. Gordon 1929: fig. 1), while Potamonautes danielsi has an angular epibranchial corner and slightly scabrous anterolateral margin (Figs 7, 9B).

Potamonautes clarus Gouws, Stewart & Coke, 2000, Potamonautes depressus (Krauss, 1843), Potamonautes tuerkayi Wood & Daniels, 2016, Potamonautes brincki (Bott, 1960), Potamonautes flavusjo Daniels, Phiri & Bayliss, 2014, Potamonautes isimangaliso Peer & Gouws, 2015 and Potamonautes lividus Gouws, Stewart & Reavell, 2001 all have smooth anterolateral margins and smooth, rounded epibranchial corners (cf. Gouws et al. 2000: figs 5G, 6, 7A; cf. Krauss 1843: table II fig. 4; cf. Bott 1960: figs 1-4; cf. Daniels et al. 2014: figs 6, 7; cf. Peer et al. 2015: fig. 4; cf. Gouws et al. 2001: figs 5A, 6, 7A), while Potamonautes danielsi sp. n. has an angular epibranchial corner and a slightly scabrous anterolateral margin (Figs 7, 9B). Additionally, Potamonautes danielsi has a more vaulted carapace (CL/CH = 1.9-2.3) compared to Potamonautes depressus (CL/CH = 1.6-1.8), but a flatter carapace compared to Potamonautes isimangaliso (CL/CH = 2.3-2.6). Potamonautes brincki is confined to the Western Cape. Potamonautes clarus and Potamonautes tuerkayi are typically bright orange with highly arched dactyls creating a large interspace when chelipeds are closed (cf. Gouws et al. 2000: figs 6A, B, 7C). Conversely, Potamonautes danielsi varies in colour from brown to purple but no orange specimens have been collected, while dactyls are moderately arched forming a slim interspace when closed (Figs 7A, 8A, B). Potamonautes flavusjo and Potamonautes lividus are distinctly coloured (yellow pereopods, and orange pereopods with a blue carapace respectively), with Potamonautes flavusjo occurring in the Mpumalanga Highveld and Potamonautes lividus mainly in northern KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape ( Gouws et al. 2001, 2015, Daniels et al. 2014), but also in Swaziland ( Daniels and Bayliss 2012). Potamonautes parvicorpus Daniels, Stewart & Burmeister, 2001 also has rounded epibranchial corners, although it bears a slightly granulated anterolateral margin (cf. Daniels et al. 2001: figs 10, 11A). It also differs in location occurring only in the Western Cape.

Potamonautes danielsi shares outward similarities with Potamonautes perlatus (H. Milne Edwards, 1837), Potamonautes granularis Daniels, Stewart & Gibbons, 1998, Potamonautes sidneyi Rathbun, 1904, Potamonautes barbarai Phiri & Daniels, 2014, and Potamonautes barnardi Phiri & Daniels, 2014. All the above-mentioned species display an angular epibranchial corner with granulation or scabrosity and prominent postfrontal crests (fig. 4A; cf. Daniels et al. 1998: figs 2A, 10, 11A; cf. Rathbun 1904: plate XIV fig. 5; cf. Daniels et al. 1998: fig. 2F). Additionally, these five species are typically widespread, large, robust species occurring from the middle to lower reaches of rivers. Potamonautes granularis differs from Potamonautes danielsi in that it consistently exhibits orange-tipped chelipeds, the branchial region is highly convex and the anterior margin curves heavily inwards at the midpoint (cf. Daniels et al. 1998: figs 2A, 10, 11A), while Potamonautes danielsi does not always have orange-tipped chelipeds, has a flatter branchial region and a fairly straight anterior margin (Fig. 7A). Potamonautes perlatus , Potamonautes barbarai , and Potamonautes barnardi are morphologically indistinct ( Phiri and Daniels 2014) and all differ from Potamonautes danielsi slightly (Fig. 9). The main difference lies in the anterior margin, which is similar in Potamonautes sidneyi s. str., Potamonautes perlatus , Potamonautes barbarai and Potamonautes barnardi . When viewed dorsally, the anterior margin of Potamonautes danielsi sp. n. lies relatively straight with a slight forward projection medially (Fig. 9B). The anterior margins of Potamonautes perlatus , Potamonautes barbarai and Potamonautes barnardi all contain a concavity in the crest behind each orbit so that a wide “W” is formed (Fig. 9A). The orbits of Potamonautes danielsi are deeper set than the orbits of Potamonautes perlatus , Potamonautes barbarai and Potamonautes barnardi . Additionally, the epibranchial corner of the former is more angular while those of the latter species group are slightly more rounded. However, even here variation across populations makes it difficult to differentiate between these species based solely on morphology.

Potamonautes danielsi and Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. are difficult to distinguish based on morphology alone, as key characters often overlap. The type specimens of the two species exhibit marked differences i.e.: 1) Potamonautes danielsi sp. n. has a smoother or slightly granulated anterolateral margin with a smoother or scabrous epibranchial region (fig. 7A), while Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. typically has a heavily granulated anterolateral margin with a highly scabrous branchial region (plate XIV fig 5-Rathbun, 1904; fig. 4A) and even bears fine hairs on the carapace in some populations; 2) the propodi of Potamonautes danielsi sp. n. are inflated (Fig. 8A, B) while those of Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. are slender (Fig. 5A, B); 3) Potamonautes danielsi sp. n. has a high terminal segment length: subterminal segment length of gonopod 2 (Fig. 8H, I) and a low terminal segment length: subterminal segment length of gonopod 1 (Fig. 8F, G), while Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. has a lower terminal segment length: subterminal segment length of gonopod 2 (Fig. 5H, I) and a higher terminal segment length: subterminal segment length of gonopod 1 (Fig. 5F, G); 4) Potamonautes danielsi sp. n. bears slim pereopods (Figs 7A, B) as opposed to the stout limbs of Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. (Figs 4A, B). However, across the known range of distribution these individual characters vary significantly, with one species resembling the other on occasions. Their separation, thus, requires the inclusion of the whole suite of key characters including the shape and width of the carapace, the inflation of the propodi, the slenderness of the pereopods, the terminal segment length:subterminal segment length ratio of gonopod 1, and the shape of gonopod 1. The granulation of the carapace alone is not a reliable distinguishing character to tell these two species apart. Following morphometric analyses, the new species was distinguished from Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. mainly by the carapace variables CWA, CL and CH, which contributed the most to distinguishing between the two forms in the discriminant analysis (Fig. 2). The classification functions for both species were as follows:

Y( Potamonautes danielsi sp. n.) = 620.17(LogCWA)-1349.21(LogCL)-362.50(LogCH)-382.53

Y( Potamonautes sidneyi s. str.) = 765.23(LogCWA)-1491.17(LogCL)-305.94(LogCH)-420.01

Individuals were then reassigned to groups based on a priori probabilities, using these classification functions. Ninety-one percent (91%) of the Potamonautes danielsi sp. n. individuals and 95% of the Potamonautes sidneyi s. str. individuals were correctly classified, with only three and one individuals being reassigned to the other species, respectively. The following three regressions were used to support the distinction between the two species: A. P2ML/P2MW, B. CRPW/CRPL, and C. CWA/CL (Fig. 3a, b, c). Regression analyses showed that the two species are significantly distinct using these morphological regressions (P2ML/P2MW-SS = 0.62, df = 1, F = 581, p <0.001; CRPW/CRPL-SS = 1.11, df = 1, F = 939, p <0.001; CWA/CL-SS = 0.59, df = 1, F = 2923, p <0.001).