Studies on the food and feeding habits of soil oribatei in a black pine plantation


Food preferences and feeding behaviour of abundant species of oribatid mites in a black pine plantation have been studied by soil sectioning technique. It is suggested that Microtritia minima, Rhysotritia duplicata and Phthiracarus sp. play an important role in the mechanical breakdown of decaying litter and, by contributing to the humification process, help in the accumulation of plant nutrients. Due to poor mobility their contribution to fungal spore dissemination is insignificant. Chamobates incisus was determined to be a fungivorous species while no exact information could be obtained about the precise food of Tectocepheus velatus. Rest of the species seemed to consume large quantities of decaying litter but in view of their low populations throughout, presumably they do not contribute appreciably in the humification process. The speed of decomposition of faecal pellets seemed to be governed by the type of food ingested. The role of oribatid fauna in the litter and soil ecosystems is discussed.


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