Field of Science

Lasiobelba: the Oppiid Way

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Lateral view (minus legs) of Lasiobelba pontica, from Vasiliu & Ivan (2011).


The animal illustrated above is a typical representative of Lasiobelba, a cosmopolitan genus of oribatid mites. Lasiobelba includes over thirty species of the family Oppiidae (Ermilov et al. 2014), commonly recognised as the most diverse family of oribatids. Oppiids are inhabitants of soils, where they primarily feed on fungi. Distinctive features of Lasiobelba within the Oppiidae include the absence of costulae (thickened ridges) on the prodorsum, and the presence of nine to ten pairs of setae on the notogaster that are inserted in two or four subparallel rows. The bothridial setae (the large sensory setae near the corners of the prodorsum) may be spindle-shaped at the ends or linearly hair-like; the two bothridial morphologies are used to distinguish two subgenera Lasiobelba and Antennoppia, respectively.

As is common for oribatids, there doesn't seem to be much information available for this genus beyond taxonomic studies. Lasiobelba species are most diverse in tropical and subtropical regions, with few reaching colder parts of the world. When they described the species L. pontica from the Movile Cave in Romania, Vasiliu & Ivan (2011) noted that this genus was otherwise unknown from the country. They suggested that this species might represent a relict of a warmer era that had managed to survive in the stable environment of the cave system after inclement conditions had driven it from the surface.

REFERENCES

Ermilov, S. G., U. Ya. Shtanchaeva, L. S. Subías & J. Martens. 2014. Two new species of oribatid mites of Lasiobelba (Acari, Oribatida, Oppiidae) from Nepal, including a key to all species of the genus. ZooKeys 424: 1–17.

Vasiliu, N. A., & O. Ivan. 2011. New oppiid species (Acari, Oribatida, Oppiidae) from Romanian caves. Trav. Inst. Spéol. "Émile Racovitza" 50: 3–14.

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