Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Global diversity of water mites (Acari, Hydrachnidia; Arachnida) in freshwater

Abstract

The Hydrachnidia (water mites) represent the most important group of the Arachnida in fresh water. Over 6,000 species have been described worldwide, representing 57 families, 81 subfamilies and more than 400 genera. The article analyzes extant water mite diversity and biogeography. Data on distribution and species richness of water mites are substantial but still far from complete. Many parts of the world are poorly investigated, Oriental and Afrotropical regions in particular. Moreover, information among different freshwater habitats is unbalanced with springs and interstitial waters disproportionately unrepresented. Therefore, more than 10,000 species could be reasonably expected to occur in inland waters worldwide. Based on available information, the Palaearctic region represents one of the better investigated areas with the highest number of species recorded (1,642 species). More than 1,000 species have been recorded in each of the Neotropical (1,305 species) and Nearctic regions (1,025 species). Known species richness is lower in Afrotropical (787 species) and Australasian (694 species) regions, and lowest in the Oriental region (554 species). The total number of genera is not correlated with species richness and is distinctly higher in the Neotropical (164 genera); genus richness is similar in the Palaearctic, Nearctic and Australasian regions (128–131 genera) and is lower in the Afrotropical and Oriental regions with 110 and 94 genera, respectively. A mean number of about three genera per family occur in the Palaeartic, Nearctic and Oriental while an average of more than four genera characterizes the families of Australasian and Afrotropical regions and more than five genera those of the Neotropical. Australasian fauna is also characterized by the highest percentage of endemic genera (62%), followed by Neotropical (50.6%) and Afrotropical (47.2%) regions. Lower values are recorded for the Palaearctic (26.9%), Oriental (24.4%) and Nearctic (21.4%). The Palaearctic and Nearctic have the highest faunistic similarity, some minor affinities are also evident for the generic diversification of Holarctic and Oriental families. The faunas of Southern Hemisphere bioregions are more distinct and characterized by the presence of ancient Gondwanan clades with a regional diversification particularly evident in the Neotropics and Australasia. This scenario of water mite diversity and distribution reflect the basic vicariance pattern, isolation, phylogenetic diversification, recent climatic vicissitudes and episodes of dispersal between adjacent land masses together with extant ecological factors can be evoked to explain distribution patterns at a global scale.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

References

  1. Boulton, A. J., W. F. Humphreys & S. M. Eberhard, 2003. Imperilled subsurface waters in Australia: biodiversity, threatening processes and conservation. Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management 6: 41–54.

  2. Cook, D. R., 1966. The water mites of Liberia. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 6: III+418 pp.

  3. Cook, D. R., 1967. Water mites from India. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 9: III+411 pp.

  4. Cook, D. R., 1980. Studies on neotropical water mites. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 31: V+645 pp.

  5. Cook, D. R., 1983. Rheophilic and hyporheic water mites of New Zealand. Contributions of the American Entomological Institute 21: II+224 pp.

  6. Cook, D. R., 1986. Water mites from Australia. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 40: IV+568 pp.

  7. Cook, D. R., 1988. Water mites from Chile. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 42: 356.

  8. Cox, C. B., 2001. The biogeographic regions reconsidered. Journal of Biogeography 28: 511–523.

  9. Dartnall, H. J. G., 2005. Freshwater invertebrates of subantarctic South Georgia. Journal of Natural History 39: 3321–3342.

  10. Di Sabatino, A., R. Gerecke & P. Martin, 2000. The biology and ecology of lotic water mites (Hydrachnidia). Freshwater Biology 44: 47–62.

  11. Di Sabatino, A., P. Martin, R. Gerecke & B. Cicolani, 2002. Hydrachnidia (Water mites). In Rundle S., A. Robertson & J. Schmid-Araya (eds), Freshwater Meiofauna: Biology and Ecology. Backhuys Publisher, Leiden, 105–133.

  12. Di Sabatino, A., B. Cicolani & R. Gerecke, 2003. Biodiversity and distribution of water mites (Acari, Hydrachnidia) in spring habitats. Freshwater Biology 48: 2163–2173.

  13. Gerecke, R., 2004. The water mites of Madagascar (Acari: Hydrachnidia): a revised list completed by original material conserved at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris. Zoosystema 26: 393–418.

  14. Gerecke, R. & E. O. Lehmann, 2005. Towards a long term monitoring of Central European water mite faunas (Acari: Hydrachnidia and Halacaridae)—considerations on the background of data from 1900 to 2000. Limnologica 35: 45–51.

  15. Gerecke, R., S. B. Peck & H. E. Pehofer, 1996. The invertebrate fauna of the inland waters of the Galápagos Archipelago (Ecuador)—a limnological and zoogeographical summary. Archiv für Hydrobiologie, Supplement 107: 113–147.

  16. Gerecke, R., I. M. Smith & D. R. Cook, 1999. Three new species of Apheviderulix gen. nov. and proposal of Apheviderulicidae fam. nov. (Acari: Hydrachnidia: Eylaoidea). Hydrobiologia 397: 133–147.

  17. Goldschmidt, T., 2002. The biodiversity of Neotropical water mites. In Bernini, F., R. Nannelli, G. Nuzzaci & F. de Lillo (eds), Acarid Phylogeny and Evolution. Adaptations in mites and ticks. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 91–99.

  18. Goldschmidt, T. & R. Gerecke, 2003. Zur Kenntnis der Wassermilbenfauna (Acari, Hydrachnidia) in Fließgewässern und Quellen auf Madagaskar. Tagungsbericht DGL Braunschweig 2002: 755–760.

  19. Habeeb, H., 1967. A check list of North American water-mites. Leaflets of Acadian Biology 43: 1–8.

  20. Harrison, A.D., 2000. The Water Mites (Acari: Hydrachnellae) of South Africa. http://www.rhodes.ac.za/academic/departments/zooento/Martin/amites.html

  21. Harvey, M. S., 1998. The Australian Water Mites. A Guide to Families and Genera. Monographs on Invertebrate Taxonomy 4. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

  22. Jin, D., 1997. Hydrachnellae—morphology, systematics. A primary study of Chinese fauna. Guizhou Science and Technology Publishing House.

  23. Lundblad, O., 1941. Die Hydracarinenfauna Südbrasiliens und Paraguays. Erster Teil. Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademiens Handlingar 19: 1–183.

  24. Lundblad, O., 1942. Die Hydracarinenfauna Südbrasiliens und Paraguays. Zweiter Teil. Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademiens Handlingar 20: 1–175.

  25. Lundblad, O., 1943a. Die Hydracarinenfauna Südbrasiliens und Paraguays, Dritter Teil. Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademiens Handlingar 20: 1–148.

  26. Lundblad, O., 1943b. Die Hydracarinenfauna Südbrasiliens und Paraguays, Vierter Teil. Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademiens Handlingar 20: 1–171.

  27. Lundblad, O., 1944. Die Hydracarinenfauna Südbrasiliens und Paraguays, Fünfter Teil. Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademiens Handlingar 20: 1–182.

  28. Lydekker, R., 1896. A Geographical History of Mammals. University Press, Cambridge.

  29. Mitchell, R. D., 1954. Check list of North American water-mites. Fieldiana, Zoology 35: 27–70.

  30. Panesar, A., 2004. Evolution in water mites (Hydrachnellae, Actinedida, Acari). A revision of the Anisitsiellidae Koenike, 1910. Bonner Zoologische Monographien 52: 1–144.

  31. Pugh, P. J. A. & H. J. G. Dartnall, 1994. The Acari of fresh- and brackish water habitats in the Antarctic and sub-Antartctic regions. Polar Biology 14: 401–404.

  32. Poinar, G. O., 1985. Fossil evidence of insect parasitism by mites. International Journal of Acarology 11: 37–38.

  33. Rosso de Ferradas B. & H. R. Fernandez, 2005. Elenco y biogeografia de los Acaros acuaticos (Acari, Parasitengona, Hydrachnidia) de Sudamerica. Graellsia, 61: 181–224.

  34. Simpson, G. H., 1977. Too many lines; the limits of the Oriental and Australian zoogeographic regions. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 121: 107–120.

  35. Smit, H., 2005. A review of the water mite fauna from the Australasian and Pacific region (Acari: Hydrachnidia). In Weigmann, P., G. Alberti, A. Wohltmann & S. Ragusa (eds), Acarine Biodiversity in the Natural and Human Sphere. Phytophaga 14: 525–530.

  36. Smith, I. M. & D. R. Cook, 1999. An assessment of global distribution patterns in water mites (Acari: Hydrachnidia) In Mitchell R., G. Needham & W. C. Welbourn (eds), Acarology IX, Vol. 2, Symposia. Ohio Biological Survey. Columbus, Ohio, 523–527.

  37. Smith, I. M., D. R. Cook & B. P. Smith, 2001. Water mites (Hydrachnida) and other arachnids. In Thorp J. H. & A. P. Covich (eds), Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates (2nd edition). Academic Press, San Diego, California, 551–659.

  38. Smith, I. M., E. E. Lindquist & V. Behan-Pelletier, 1998. Mites (Acari). In Smith, I. M. & G. G. Scudder (eds), Assessment of Species Diversity in the Montane Cordillera Ecozone. Burlington: Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network. Available at: http://www.naturewatch.ca/eman/reports/publications/99_montane/mites/mites06.html

  39. Sokolow, I., 1940. Hydracarina (1.re partie: Hydrachnellae). In: Sernow D., &T. Stackelberg (eds), Faune de l’URSS. Arachnides. Institute Zoology Academy of Science. URSS, Moscow, Leningrad, 5: 1–511.

  40. Tuzovskij, P. V., 1987. Morphology and Postembryonal Development of Water Mites. Nauka, Moskwa: 1–176.

  41. Tuzovskij, P.V., 1997. Hydrachnidia. In Tsalolikhin, S. J. (ed.), Key to Freshwater Invertebrates of Russia and Adjacent Lands. Institute Zoology Academy of Science, URSS 3: 13–35.

  42. Van Rensburg, C. A., 1974. A checklist of the Ethiopian water mites with notes on their distribution. Wetenskaplike Bydraes van die Potchefstroomse Universiteit vir C.H.O. Reeks B, Natuurwetenskappe 68, pp. 1–51.

  43. Viets, K. O., 1970. Unser Zuwachs an Kenntnissen über die aus Afrika bekannten Wassermilben (Hydrachnellae, Acari) (mit Anhang: Limnohalacaridae). Hydrobiologia, 35: 65–126.

  44. Viets, K. O., 1987. Die Milben des Süβwassers (Hydrachnellae und Halacaridae [part.], Acari). 2. Katalog. Sonderbände des Naturwissenschaftlichen Vereins in Hamburg 8: 1–1012.

  45. Wiles, P. R., 2004. Water mites (Acari: Hydrachnidia) from South-East Asia, Thailand and Sulawesi Tenggara (Indonesia): descriptions of new species and new records. Journal of Natural History 38: 2153–2165.

  46. Witte, H., 1991. Indirect sperm transfer in prostigmatic mites from a phylogenetic viewpoint. In: Schuster R., P. W. Murphy (eds), The Acari. Reproduction, Development and Life-history Strategies. Chapman and Hall, London, 137–176.

Download references

Acknowledgements

We wish to thank H. Proctor (Alberta, Canada) and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. ADS wish to thank P. Vignini (L’Aquila, Italy) for her valuable help during the preparation of the manuscript. ADS and BC were in part financially supported by the Italian MIUR (ex 60%).

Author information

Correspondence to Antonio Di Sabatino.

Additional information

Guest editors: E. V. Balian, C. Lévêque, H. Segers & K. Martens

Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Di Sabatino, A., Smit, H., Gerecke, R. et al. Global diversity of water mites (Acari, Hydrachnidia; Arachnida) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595, 303–315 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-007-9025-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Biogeography
  • Freshwaters
  • Global assessment
  • Water mites
  • Hydrachnidia