, Volume 140, Issue 4, pp 609–616 | Cite as

Leaf domatia mediate mutualism between mites and a tropical tree

  • Gustavo Q. Romero
  • Woodruff W. Benson
Plant Animal Interactions


Although associations between mites and leaf domatia have been widely reported, their consequences for plants, especially for natural tree populations, particularly in the tropics, are largely unknown. In experiments with paired Cupania vernalis (Sapindaceae) saplings in a semi-deciduous forest in south-east Brazil, we blocked leaf domatia to examine their effect: (1) on mites and other arthropods, and (2) on damage caused by fungi and herbivorous arthropods. In general, plants with resin-blocked domatia had fewer predaceous mites on leaves than control plants with unaltered domatia, but the total abundances of fungivorous and of phytophagous mites remained unchanged. However, phytophagous eriophyid mites, the most numerous inhabitants of domatia, decreased on leaf surfaces with the blocking treatment. In a second experiment, treated plants lacking functional domatia developed significantly greater numbers and areas of chlorosis, apparently due to increased eriophyid attacks, whereas fungal attack, epiphyll abundance and leaf-area loss were unaffected. This seems to be the first experimental study to demonstrate that leaf domatia can benefit plants against herbivory in a natural system. The possible stabilizing effect of leaf domatia on predator-prey interactions is discussed.


Mite-plant interactions Stable equilibrium Arthropod assemblage Tri-trophic interactions Cupania 



We are grateful to Reinaldo J. F. Feres and Rodrigo Daud for kindly identifying the mites, to Jorge Tamashiro for the identification of the Cupania, and to the staff of the Serra do Japi field station for logistic support. Reinaldo J. F. Feres, João Vasconcellos-Neto and two anonymous referees provided helpful comments that greatly improved the manuscript. During this study, G. Q. R. was supported by a doctoral fellowship from the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP, proc. 01/04610–0).


  1. Agrawal AA (1997) Do leaf domatia mediate a plant-mite mutualism? An experimental test of the effects on predators and herbivores. Ecol Entomol 22:371–376Google Scholar
  2. Agrawal AA, Karban R (1997) Domatia mediate plant-arthropod mutualism. Nature 387:562–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Agrawal AA, Karban R, Colfer RG (2000) How leaf domatia and induced plant resistance affect herbivores, natural enemies and plant performance. Oikos 89:70–80Google Scholar
  4. Carvalho DA, Oliveira Filho AT, Vilela EA, Gavilanes ML (1995) Estrutura fitossociológica de mata ripária do alto Rio Grande (Bom Sucesso, estado de Minas Gerais). Rev Bras Bot 18:39–49Google Scholar
  5. English-Loeb G, Norton AP, Walker MA (2002) Behavioral and population consequences of acarodomatia in grapes on phytoseiid mites (Mesostigmata) and implications for plant breeding. Entomol Exp Appl 104:307–319Google Scholar
  6. Faraji F, Janssen A, Sabelis MW (2002) The benefits of clustering eggs: the role of egg predation and larval canibalism in a predatory mite. Oecologia 131:20–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Feres RJF, Rossa-Feres D de C, Daud RD, Santos RS (2002) Diversidade de ácaros (Acari, Arachnida) em seringueiras (Hevea brasiliensis Muell. Arg., Euphorbiaceae) na região noroeste do Estado de São Paulo, Brasil. Rev Bras Zool 19:137–144Google Scholar
  8. Gause GF (1934) The struggle for existence. Williams and Wilkins, Baltmore, Pa.Google Scholar
  9. Grostal P, O’Dowd DJ (1994) Plants, mites and mutualism: leaf domatia and the abundance and reproduction of mites on Viburnum tinus (Caprifoliaceae). Oecologia 97:308–315Google Scholar
  10. Huffaker CB (1958) Experimental studies on predation: dispersion factors and predator-prey oscillations. Hilgardia 27:795–835Google Scholar
  11. Hurlbert SH (1984) Pseudoreplication and the design of ecological field experiments. Ecol Monogr 54:187–211Google Scholar
  12. Jeppson LR, Keifer HH, Baker EW (1975) Mites injurious to economic plants. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif.Google Scholar
  13. Karban R, English-Loeb G, Walker MA, Thaler J (1995) Abundance of phytoseiid mites on Vitis species: effects of leaf hairs, domatia, prey abundance and plant phylogeny. Exp Appl Acarol 19:189–197Google Scholar
  14. Kasai A, Yano S, Nishida T, Kadono F, Takafuji A (2002a) Spatial distribution pattern of domatia and seasonal occurrence of the eriophyid mite in relation to the foliation phenology of Cinnamomum camphora. Jpn J Appl Entomol Zool 46:159–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kasai A, Yano S, Takafuji A (2002b) Density of the eriophyid mites inhabiting the domatia of Cinnamomum camphora Linn. affects the density of the predatory mite, Amblyseius sojaensis Ehara (Acari: Phytoseiidae), not inhabiting the domatia. Appl Entomol Zool 37:617–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Krantz GW (1978) A manual of acarology. Oregon State University Book Stores, Corvallis, Ore.Google Scholar
  17. Kreiter S, Tixier MS, Croft BA, Auger P, Barret D (2002) Plants and leaf characteristics influencing the predaceous mite Kampimodromus aberrans (Acari: Phytoseiidae) in habitats surronding vineyards. Environ Entomol 31:648–660Google Scholar
  18. Lorenzi H (2002) Árvores brasileiras: manual de identificação e cultivo de plantas arbóreas do Brasil. Quarta edição, vol 1. Instituto Plantarum de Estudos da FloraGoogle Scholar
  19. McCauley E, Kendall BE, Janssen A, Wood S, Murdoch WW, Hosseini P, Briggs CJ, Ellner SP, Nisbet RM, Sabelis MW, Turchin P (2000) Inferring colonization processes from population dynamics in spatially structured predator-prey systems. Ecology 81:3350–3361Google Scholar
  20. Nachman G (1987) Systems analysis of acarine predator-prey interactions. II. The role of spatial processes in system stability. J Anim Ecol 56:267–281Google Scholar
  21. Nachman G (1991) An acarine predator-prey metapopulation system inhabiting greenhouse cucumber. Biol J Linn Soc 42:285–303Google Scholar
  22. Norton AP, English-Loeb G, Gadoury D, Seem RC (2000) Mycophagous mites and foliar pathogens: leaf domatia mediate tritrophic interactions in grapes. Ecology 81:490–499Google Scholar
  23. Norton AP, English-Loeb G, Belden E (2001) Host plant manipulation of natural enemies: leaf domatia protect beneficial mites from insect predators. Oecologia 126:535–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. O’Dowd DJ (1994) Mite association with the leaf domatia of coffee (Coffea arabica) in north Queensland, Australia. Bull Entomol Res 84:361–366Google Scholar
  25. O’Dowd DJ, Pemberton R (1994) Leaf domatia in Korean plants: floristics, frequency, and biogeography. Vegetatio 114:137–148Google Scholar
  26. O’Dowd DJ, Pemberton R (1998) Leaf domatia and foliar mite abundance in broadleaf deciduous forest of North Asia. Am J Bot 85:70–78Google Scholar
  27. O’Dowd DJ, Willson MF (1989) Leaf domatia and mites on Australasian plants: ecological and evolutionary implications. Biol J Linn Soc 37:191–236Google Scholar
  28. O’Dowd DJ, Willson MF (1991) Associations between mites and leaf domatia. Trends Ecol Evol 6:179–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. O’Dowd DJ, Willson MF (1997) Leaf domatia and the distribution and abundance of foliar mites in broadleaf deciduous forest in Wisconsin. Am Midl Nat 137:337–348Google Scholar
  30. Pemberton RW, Turner CE (1989) Occurrence of predatory and fungivorous mites in leaf domatia. Am J Bot 76:105–112Google Scholar
  31. Pinto HS (1992) Clima na Serra do Japi. In: Morellato LPC (org) História natural da Serra do Japi: ecologia e preservação de uma área florestal no Sudeste do Brasil. Editora da Unicamp, Campinas, pp 30–39Google Scholar
  32. Richards PW (1996) The tropical rain forest, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  33. Rozario SA (1995) Association between mites and leaf domatia: evidence from Bangladesh, South Asia. J Trop Ecol 11:99–108Google Scholar
  34. Santos K (1998) Flora arbustivo-arbórea do fragmento de floresta estacional semidecidual do Ribeirão Cachoeira, Campinas, SP. MSc thesis. Departamento de Botânica, Unicamp, CampinasGoogle Scholar
  35. Silva JA, Salomão AN, Gripp A, Leite EJ (1997) Phytosociological survey in Brazilian Forest Genetic Reserve of Caçador. Plant Ecol 133:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sipura M (1999) Tritrophic interactions: willows, herbivorous insects and insectivorous birds. Oecologia 121:537–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry, 3rd edn. Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. SPSS (2002) SYSTAT. Version 10.2. SPSS Science, Chicago, Ill.Google Scholar
  39. Strong AM, Sherry TW, Holmes RT (2000) Bird predation on herbivorous insects: indirect effects on sugar maple saplings. Oecologia 125:370–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Walker GP, Voulgaropoulos AL, Phillips PA (1992) Distribution of citrus bud mite (Acari: Eriophyidae) within lemon trees. J Econ Entomol 85:2389–2398Google Scholar
  41. Walter DE (1996) Living on leaves: mites, tomenta, and leaf domatia. Annu Rev Entomol 41:101–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Walter DE, Denmark HA (1991) Use of leaf domatia on wild grape (Vitis munsoniana) by arthropods in central Florida. Fla Entomol 74:440–446Google Scholar
  43. Walter DE, O’Dowd DJ (1992a) Leaves with domatia have more mites. Ecology 73:1514–1518Google Scholar
  44. Walter DE, O’Dowd DJ (1992b) Leaf morphology and predators: effects of leaf domatia on the abundance of predatory mites (Acari: Phytoseiidae). Environ Entomol 21:478–484Google Scholar
  45. Werneck MS, Franceschinelli EV, Tameirão-Neto E (2000) Mudanças na florística e estrutura de uma floresta decídua durante um período de quatro anos (1994–1998), na região do Triângulo Mineiro, MG. Rev Bras Bot 23:399–411Google Scholar
  46. Willson MF (1991) Foliar shelters for mites in the eastern deciduous forest. Am Midl Nat 126:111–117Google Scholar
  47. Woolley TA (1988) Acarology: mites and human welfare. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP)CampinasBrazil

Personalised recommendations