Mesostigmatid mites (Acari: Mesostigmata) on rainforest tree trunks: arboreal specialists, but substrate generalists?
MetadataShow full item record
Predatory mites (Acari: Mesostigmata) on tree trunks without significant epiphytic growth in a subtropical rainforest in Eastern Australia were assessed for habitat specificity (i.e. whether they are tree trunk specialists or occupying other habitats) and the influence of host tree and bark structure on their abundance, species richness and species composition. The trunks of nine tree species from eight plant families representing smooth, intermediate and rough bark textures were sampled using a knockdown insecticide spray. In total, 12 species or morphospecies of Mesostigmata (excluding Uropodina sensu stricto) were collected, most of which are undescribed. Comparison with collections from other habitats indicates that epicorticolous Mesostigmata are mainly represented by suspended soil dwellers (six species), secondarily by generalists (four species) and a bark specialist (one species). A typical ground-dwelling species was also found but was represented only by a single individual. In terms of abundance, 50.5% of individuals were suspended soil dwellers, 40.7% bark specialists, and 8.3% generalists. Host species and bark roughness had no significant effect on abundance or species richness. Furthermore, there was no clear effect on species composition. The distribution of the most frequently encountered species suggests that most mesostigmatid mites living on bark use many or most rainforest tree species, independent of bark roughness. These findings support the hypothesis that some epicorticolous Mesostigmata use tree trunks as `highways' for dispersing between habitat patches, while others use it as a permanent habitat.
Experimental & Applied Acarology