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Exp Appl Acarol. 2014 Apr;62(4):449-61.

Limits to ambulatory displacement of coconut mites in absence and presence of food-related cues.


Ambulatory movement of plant-feeding mites sets limits to the distances they can cover to reach a new food source. In absence of food-related cues these limits are determined by survival, walking activity, walking path tortuosity and walking speed, whereas in presence of food the limits are also determined by the ability to orient and direct the path towards the food source location. For eriophyoid mites such limits are even more severe because they are among the smallest mites on earth, because they have only two pairs of legs and because they are very sensitive to desiccation. In this article we test how coconut mites (Aceria guerreronis Keifer) are constrained in their effective displacement by their ability to survive in absence of food (meristematic tissue under the coconut perianth) and by their ability to walk and orient in absence or presence of food-related cues. We found that the mean survival time decreased with increasing temperature and decreasing humidity. Under climatic conditions representative for the Tropics (27 °C and 75 % relative humidity) coconut mites survived on average for 11 h and covered 0.4 m, representing the effective linear displacement away from the origin. Within a period of 5 h, coconut mites collected from old fruits outside the perianth moved further away from the origin than mites collected under the perianth of young fruits. However, in the presence of food-related cues coconut mites traveled over 30 % larger distances than in absence of these cues. These results show that ambulatory movement of eriophyoid mites may well bring them to other coconuts within the same bunch and perhaps also to other bunches on the same coconut palm, but it is unlikely to help them move from palm to palm, given that palms usually do not touch each other.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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