, Volume 89, Issue 4, pp 487–493 | Cite as

The dispersal behaviour of the phoretic mite Poecilochirus carabi (Mesostigmata, Parasitidae): adaptation to the breeding biology of its carrier Necrophorus vespilloides (Coleoptera, Silphidae)

  • Horst H. Schwarz
  • Josef K. Müller
Original Papers


When the phoretic mite Poecilochirus carabi reproduces in the brood chamber of its carrier Necrophorus vespilloides, a beetle with biparental brood care, the first deuteronymphs of the new mite generation aggregate on the male beetle. They do not use sex-specific traits to discriminate between male and female beetles in the brood chamber, but traits that are related to the beetles' behaviour and may be displayed by both parent beetles. When the male beetle departs, it carries virtually all deuteronymphs then present in the brood chamber. Deuteronymphs that develop later congregate on the female, which leaves the crypt some days after the male. Only those deuteronymphs that miss the female's departure disperse on the beetle larvae, meaning they have to wait in their pupal chambers until the beetles have completed their development. On average, 86% of the deuteronymphs leave the brood chamber on the parent beetles, thereby gaining the advantage of an early departure. As soon as their carrier arrives at one of the beetles' meeting places, the deuteronymphs can transfer between the beetles present. Choice experiments revealed that the deuteronymphs tend to even out density differences between congregating carriers, and prefer sexually mature to immature beetles. Therefore, transferring between beetles results in a dispersion of deuteronymphs on the sexually mature beetles of the population.

Key words

Dispersal Phoresy Sex-preference Poecilochirus Necrophorus 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Horst H. Schwarz
    • 1
  • Josef K. Müller
    • 1
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für Evolutionsforschung der UniversitätBielefeld 1Federal Republic of Germany

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