Two different forms of cryptic species-complexes in mites of the Histiostomatidae (Astigmata) from bank mud and bark beetle-galleries and their significance for applied biodiversity research

von wirthstef

b) Applied context

The lack of a sufficient number of experts, due to limited research funding for basic research in many countries, means that few taxonomists have to describe many species in order to be able to keep up with biodiversity research. Therefore, there is often not enough time to create mite cultures or to be present on entomological collecting excursions and to pursue an own mite-based methodical approach. As a result, the acarologist becomes just a follower and has to work with the material that is „bycatch“ of the entomologists. These are mostly already dead deutonymphs, so there is a trend to produce descriptions of species based on only these deutonymphs or to determine species on their basis. The examples of cryptic species dealt with here are intended to show that this can lead to confusion in the determination and that such species descriptions are often not suitable for a precise characterization of species. In the case of the bark beetle mites for example, listed here, the adults in addition to the deutonymphs can at least contribute as many (morphological) features as possible, even if they are of a gradual nature. For example, if material from bark beetle traps is passed on to acarologists, they can often only create a species description based on such deutonymphs, provided these deutonymphs are considered at least to be distinct enough (e.g. Klimov & Khaustov, 2018 B). Indeed, logistically it is unfortunately not always possible to set up separate traps in which the bark beetles are caught alive in order to be able to cultivate its phoretic mites. But such approaches should at least, if possible, be tackled despite the additional expenditure of time by for example describing less species and investing more effort in their biology. In general, I am of the opinion that biodiversity research needs time and that it requires as many experts as possible.


I am grateful to the FU Berlin for offering a working place with access to a SEM microscope until 2014. Many thanks to Wouter Dekoninck (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences) for finding my H. maritimum specimen in the collection of A. Fain.

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