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A morphometrical study of oribatid mites (Acari: Oribatida) of the genus Carabodes C.L. Koch, 1835 (Carabodidae) using a confocal laser scanning microscope: an alternative approach to quantitative analysis of various features

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In the past, micro-arthropod taxonomists have mainly relied on qualitative characters to identify species, and relatively little attention has been paid to quantitative analysis. However, several taxonomic groups have high morphological variability, which creates problems in identification. Quantitative analysis of morphometrical data of specific characters could aid in understanding differences in the morphology of oribatid species. In this respect, confocal laser scanning microscopy and quantitative analysis were used to describe morphological traits of four oribatid mite species belonging to the genus Carabodes Koch, 1835C. femoralis (Nicolet, 1855), C. labyrinthicus (Michael, 1879), C. ornatus Storkan, 1925 and C. subarcticus Trägårdh, 1902. All specimens were collected in Latvia. Thirteen morphological traits were measured for 838 adult individuals. The same traits were also measured with transmitted light microscopy, and results were compared. The impact of a number of environmental factors on traits was also assessed. High interspecific variability in size of most morphological features was observed. In many cases, sizes of the measured features correlated between different species. The ranges in length of notogastral setae p3 and h3 of C. femoralis did not overlap with those of C. labyrinthicus or C. ornatus. Significant correlations between body length and size of setal structures, as well as between setal structures, were detected. Size of morphological features was directly affected by the cover of lichens, a main food resource for Carabodes, and indirectly by the effect of soil moisture on lichen communities.

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The author is thankful to Aloizijs Patmalnieks (LUBF, Latvia) for advising on coating Carabodes for SEM. The author also wishes to thank Dace Pjanova, Ruta Brūvere (both from BMC, Latvia) and Tūrs Selga (LUBF, Latvia) for opportunity to work with CLSM as well as Donāts Erts (LUBF, CFI, Latvia) for opportunity to work with SEM. The author is grateful to Guntis Brūmelis (LUBF, Latvia) for revising the language. Finally, the author sincerely thanks Roy Norton (New York, USA), Frank Monson and Astrid Taylor (both from Great Britain), Voldemārs Spuņǵis, Tūrs Selga and Valters Gobiņš (all three from LUBF, Latvia) for their valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This work has been supported by the European Social Fund within the project “Support for Doctoral Studies at University of Latvia”.

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Correspondence to Ugis Kagainis.

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Communicated by A. Schmidt-Rhaesa.

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Kagainis, U. A morphometrical study of oribatid mites (Acari: Oribatida) of the genus Carabodes C.L. Koch, 1835 (Carabodidae) using a confocal laser scanning microscope: an alternative approach to quantitative analysis of various features. Zoomorphology 133, 227–236 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00435-014-0216-9

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  • Morphology
  • Carabodes
  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy
  • Measurements
  • Variability
  • Environmental factors