Field of Science

Oribatid Time Again

The oribatid mite genus Neogymnobates was first recognised from Illinois in 1917. Since then, the genus has been found to be more widespread in North America and has also been described from Korea and Tibet. Species of Neogymnobates are known from arboreal habitats or in association with fallen wood, and live as grazers of micro-vegetation such as lichens.

Neogymnobates luteus, copyright Monica Young.


Neogymnobates belongs to the Ceratozetidae, a diverse family of oribatids whose characteristic features include a tutorium (a projecting tooth-like structure) on the side of the prodorsum and immovable pteromorphs on either side of the front of the notogaster. Neogymnobates has the lamellae on either side of the prodorsum widely separated from each other and connected by a transverse translamella at the front. There are thirteen pairs of setae on the notogaster and four pairs of porose areas (Balogh & Balogh 1992). One species, N. marilynae of British Columbia and Washington State, is known to have an extra unpaired porose area on the midline near the rear of the notogaster (Behan-Pelletier 2000), an unusual feature among oribatids but one whose significance is uncertain). Their legs end in three claws, a feature that (as I've commented before) correlates with their arboreal habits.

Half a dozen species of Neogymnobates have been recognised to date (Subías 2004). The species are distinguished by features such as the size and appearance of the setae, and the development of the prodorsal lamellae and translamella. One Korean species, N. parvisetiger, has been awarded its own subgenus Koreozetes due to its particularly small, almost indiscernable notogastral setae and its anteriorly notched rather than rounded rostrum (Aoki 1974). Most species are only known from limited ranges except one, N. luteus, for which separate subspecies have been recognised in northern North America and in Korea. Rather unexpectedly, this last species has also recently been recorded from Zanzibar (Ermilov & Khaustov 2018). This is a remarkable range increase, both geographically and ecologically (enough so that I can't help feeling it would benefit from double-checking) that raises the possibility that we may yet have a lot to learn about this oribatid genus.

REFERENCES

Aoki, J. 1974. Oribatid mites from Korea. I. Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 20 (3–4): 233–241.

Balogh, J., & P. Balogh. 1992. The Oribatid Mites Genera of the World vol. 1. Hungarian Natural History Museum: Budapest.

Behan-Pelletier, V. M. 2000. Ceratozetidae (Acari: Oribatida) of arboreal habitats. Canadian Entomologist 132: 153–182.

Ermilov, S. G., & A. A. Khaustov. 2018. A contribution to the knowledge of oribatid mites (Acari, Oribatida) of Zanzibar. Acarina 26 (2): 151–159.

Subías, L. S. 2004. Listado sistemático, sinonímico y biogeográfico de los ácaros oribátidos (Acariformes, Oribatida) del mundo (1758–2002). Graellsia 60 (número extraordinario): 3–305.

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