Trichopetalum whitei

Trichopetalum whitei

name = "Trichopetalum whitei"
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Arthropoda
subphylum = Myriapoda
classis = Diplopoda
ordo = Chordeumatida
familia = Trichopetalidae
genus = "Trichopetalum"
species = "T. whitei"
binomial = "Trichopetalum whitei"
binomial_authority = (Ryder, 1881)
synonyms = "Zygonopus whitei"

"Trichopetalum whitei", common name Luray Caverns blind cave millipede, is a rare troglobitic (obligate cavernicolous) millipede of the upper Potomac River drainage in four Virginia counties and three West Virginia counties. It has been recorded from 12 caves across this range, including the Luray Caverns where it was first discovered and described.


"T. whitei" is an eyeless, white (unpigmented) millipede. In common with all trichopetalids, it has rows of very elongate segmental setae extending in rows along the dorsal side. Proper identification requires microscopic examination and dissection of the gonopods (copulatory apparatus) by a specialist skilled in millipede identification.

Ecology and range

"T. whitei" is a troglobite and occurs only in caves, especially occurring on damp, rotting wood. "T. whitei" is presumably omnivorous although nothing is known of its feeding preferences. Feeding is presumed to consist of picking up or scraping material from the substrate with the mouthparts then grinding with the mandibles.

The species is recorded from caves in the upper Potomac River drainage in Virginia (Augusta, Page, Rockingham, and Shenandoah Counties) and West Virignia (Hardy, Grant, and Pendleton Counties). However, if another cave millipede, "T. weyeriensis", intergrades with "T. whitei" in Pendleton County and these two species are synonymous (as some workers believe), then the range of "T. whitei" would also extend into Greenbrier, Monroe and Pocahontas Counties in West Virginia.

Reproduction and life cycle

Nothing is known of the life history of this species. In related species, the male secretes sperm from the seminal pores on the coxae of the second legs into coxal sacs on the postgonopodal legs. The secretions from the coxal sacs then form the seminal fluid into a spermatophore which is then transferred to the cyphopods of the female during mating.

Conservation status

"T. whitei" is designated as a Regional Forester Sensitive Species in the Monongahela National Forest in the Eastern Region of the Forest Service [cite web |url= |author=Julian J. Lewis |year=2001 |title=Conservation Assessment for Luray Caverns Blind Cave Milliped ("Trichopetalum whitei") |publisher=USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region]


"T. whitei" was first described as "Zygonopus whitei" by Ryder in 1881 [cite journal |quotes=no |author=J. A. Ryder |year=1881 |title=List of the North American species of myriapods belonging to the family Lysiopetalidae, with a description of a blind form from Luray Cave, Virginia |journal=Proceedings of the U. S. National Museum |volume=3 |pages=524–529] . It became "Trichopetalum whitei" with the synonymy of "Zygonopus" with "Trichopetalum" by Shear in 1972 [cite journal |author=William Shear |year=1972 |title=Studies in the milliped Order Chordeumida (Diplopoda): a revision of the Family Cleidogonidae and reclassification of the Order Chordeumida in the New World |journal=Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology |volume=144 |pages=151–352] . Causey has suggested that "Trichopetalum weyeriensis" may be a subspecies of "Trichopetalum whitei" rather than a distinct species [cite journal |author=John. R. Holsinger, Roger A. Baroody & David C. Culver |year=1976 |title=The invertebrate cave fauna of West Virginia |journal=West Virginia Speleological Survey Bulletin |volume=7 |pages=82 pp] .


Further reading

*Elliott, William R. (1998), "Conservation of the North American cave and karst biota" In "Subterranean Biota" (Series: Ecosystems of the World). Elsevier Science, Electronic preprint at 29 pages.
*Holsinger, John R. and David C. Culver (1988), "The invertebrate cave fauna of Virginia and a part of eastern Tennessee: Zoogeography and Ecology", "Brimleyana", 14: 1- 162.
*Loomis, Harold F. (1939), "The millipeds collected in Appalachian caves by Mr. Kenneth Dearolf". "Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology", 86: 165-193.
*"Conservation Assessment for Luray Caverns Blind Cave Milliped" ("Trichopetalum whitei") 8
*"Conservation Assessment for Luray Caverns Blind Cave Milliped" ("Trichopetalum whitei") 9
*Schubart, O. (1934), "Tausendfussler oder Myriapoda. 1: Diplopoda", In "Die Tierwelt Deutschlands", 28 Teil. Jena: Gustav Fischer, 318 pages.
*Shear, William A. (1971), "The milliped Family Conotylidae in North America, with a description of the new Family Adritylidae (Diplopoda: Chordeumida)", "Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology", 141(2): 55-97.

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