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The Canopy Starts at 0.5 m: Predatory Mites (Acari: Mesostigmata) Differ between Rain Forest Floor Soil and Suspended Soil at any Height

Frédéric Beaulieu, David E. Walter, Heather C. Proctor and Roger L. Kitching
Biotropica
Vol. 42, No. 6 (November 2010), pp. 704-709
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40891351
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Canopy Starts at 0.5 m: Predatory Mites (Acari: Mesostigmata) Differ between Rain Forest Floor Soil and Suspended Soil at any Height
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Abstract

Suspended soils in forest canopies are thought to harbor a substantial fraction of canopy biomass and many arboreal specialists, but do forest floor generalist predators with high vagility also use this habitat? We tested the hypothesis of no difference between forest floor and suspended-soil predatory mite faunas (Acari: Mesostigmata) in an Australian rain forest. Our results show that instead of being habitat generalists, many predatory mites partition soil into two main strata: soil suspended aboveground irrespective of height (0.5-20 m) and soil on the ground. Of 53 species of Mesostigmata in suspended soil, 53 percent (28 species) were absent from or rarely found on the ground. This increased to 60 percent (15/25 species) if only common species are considered. Among these 15 'suspended-soil specialists', all but the three least abundant were found throughout the arboreal strata. Moreover, ten species also occurred in litter accumulated on the surface of decaying logs or boulders close to the forest floor. Thus, although the arboreal predatory mite fauna is distinct from that on the forest floor, it is not restricted to the high canopy: even slightly elevated substrate appears acceptable as habitat for these suspended-soil specialists. Our data suggest that a substantial portion of a rain forest's soil and litter fauna is held above the forest floor.

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