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Diversity and biogeography of southern African intertidal Acari

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Abstract Aim 

The aims were (1) to describe the diversity and geographical distribution of the intertidal mite fauna of southern Africa, and (2) to show how species richness, endemism and geographical patterns of this fauna (comprising taxa of variable terrestrial ancestry) compare with typically marine faunas. Location and methods 

To assess intertidal mite diversity and endemism, records (published and unpublished) were compiled for a variety of habitats (mainly rocky shores and mangroves), between Swakopmund (Namibia) and Inhambane (Mozambique). The geographical study was based on a dedicated sampling programme from rocky shores, at nine localities between Elandsbaai (on the west coast) and St Lucia (on the east coast). Results 

Eighty-two species of marine mite, from thirty-three genera, are currently known from southern Africa. The majority belong to the earlier marine ancestral Halacaridae (forty-eight species), with the Ameronothroidea and Hyadesiidae collectively comprising seventeen species. In constituting three faunistic provinces, corresponding with the west (Atlantic), south and east coast (Indian) regions, the mite fauna conforms with trends for the southern African marine fauna in general. Species richness was greatest in the southern province, which deviates from the general pattern of increase from west to east, but is similar to that of some invertebrate taxonomic groups. Conclusions 

Despite their relatively recent marine connections, marine mites show typical geographical distributions, comparable with those of other rocky-shore biota in southern Africa. The marine faunistic provinces are ‘insular’ and apparently remain largely intact, across taxonomic groups and with increased taxonomic resolution.
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Keywords: Acari; Ameronothroidea; Halacaridae; Hyadesiidae; biogeography; intertidal zone; marine mites; southern Africa

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2002

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