Survey of mites in caves and deep soil and evolution of mites in these habitats

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We studied adaptations to subterranean environments in Acari. Mite populations of two caves and of the mineral horizon of soil from three forest sites were analysed. In the soil, body length was limited by the pore size. The proportions of (i) predators, (ii) phoretic mites, and (iii) primitive oribatids were higher in caves. This was potentially explained by (i) polyphagy or predation on other groups and reduced interspecific competition, (ii) the fragmented structure and liability to flooding of the cave habitat, and (iii) the higher humidity in caves. Adaptations to dry habitats probably greatly influenced the evolution in Oribatida. It is proposed that numerous mites colonized caves directly from deep soil without a surface stage.

Nous avons étudié les adaptations des acariens aux habitats souterrains en analysant les populations d'acariens de l'horizon minéral de trois sols forestiers et de deux cavernes. Dans le sol, la taille du corps est limitée par la taille des pores. Les proportions (i) de prédateurs, (ii) phorétiques et (iii) d'oribates primitifs sont plus grandes dans les cavernes. Cela peut s'expliquer par (i) la polyphagie ou la prédation sur d'autres groupes et la compétition interspécifique réduite, (ii) la structure fragmentée de l'habitat et la survenance d'inondations dans les grottes et (iii) la plus grande humidité des cavernes. Les adaptations à un habitat sec semblent avoir grandement influencé l'évolution des oribates. Nous émettons l'hypothèse selon laquelle nombre d'acariens ont colonisé les cavernes directement depuis le sol profond, sans passage par un stade de surface.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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