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Research article2014Peer reviewed

Tree hollows harbour a specialised oribatid mite fauna

Taylor, Astrid; Ranius, Thomas


Tree hollows are known to harbour a species-rich and specialized beetle fauna, while other invertebrates, such as for instance mites, have been much less studied. The importance of hollows in oak trees (Quercus robur) for local oribatid mite diversity was studied at three sites in south eastern Sweden. The qualitative and quantitative composition of the oribatid mite fauna was studied in hollows of fifteen 240-420 years old oak trees and compared to that in the surrounding soil. A total of 5,530 specimen of adult oribatid mites were determined belonging to 63 taxa. Taxonomic composition and community structure of the tree hollow communities differed markedly from the soil communities. The most dominant and frequent component of the tree hollow communities comprised a Carabodes species new to Sweden that accounted on average for 44 % of all Oribatida. This species, that closely resembles both Carabodes oenipontanus and Carabodes granulatus, was specific to the tree hollows. Dominance patterns in the soil communities were more even, with the most common taxa also occurring in the tree hollows but exhibiting a significant preference for the soil. Overall, there was little taxonomic overlap between the communities, suggesting that tree hollows harbour an independent mite community from the soil and therefore significantly contribute to the overall mite diversity on the landscape level. The present study therefore strongly supports the use of hollow trees as biodiversity indicators and also their conservation, which will preserve specialised invertebrate communities, including mites.


Oribatid mites; Tree hollow; Oak; Soil; Carabodes; Biodiversity indicator

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Journal of Insect Conservation
2014, Volume: 18, number: 1, pages: 39-55
Publisher: SPRINGER

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