University of Tyumen (UT) scientists, in cooperation with colleagues from New Zealand, studied the shelled mite community (Oribatida) of five peat bogs in the North-West of the East European Plain (Minor et al., 2016). The main aim was to identify what is more important for mites: the geographical and landscaped environment of the region, or some habitat peculiarities that are typical for some specific sphagnum types.
It became clear that in the direction from North to South, the abundance of mites increases significantly. The variance analysis showed that geographical factors determine 33.1% of the variability in the abundance of mites. Local factors on the other hand, did not have any significant influence. In all of the studied swamps, the abundance of spices and the Oribatida community composition were similar in both Sphagnum rubellum and S. magellanicus mosses, which grow mainly in some drier areas like hills, for instance. Sphagnum cuspidatum communities, which prefer soggy grounds, differed considerably from the first two moss types both on species composition and a lesser variety. The Sphagnum type determined 52.2% of the Oribatida variability while geographic factors determined only 8.7%.
No signs of line decomposition were found in the community similarities with an increasing geographical distance. Local ecological factors determined that 34.9% of the mites’ communities are in a dispersion structure. This particularly influences vascular plant variety, bryophytes and the groundwater level. Geographical factors determined 15% of the total dispersion. In general, the spatial structure and the environmental parameters determined only 50% of the Oribatida mites’ community dispersion.
Thus, the researchers came to an unexpected conclusion: only one environmental characteristic is important for some certain types of mites. It is humidity that determines the type of the sphagnum moss. Meanwhile, the general quantity of Oribatida mites is determined by the geographical disposition of a swamp – for instance, there is a lower number of mites in the North.
The research was carried out with the help of the Russian Scientific Foundation (RSF) grant: “The arthropods sphagnum population association for the historical and ecological factors assessment in the community evolution” (project manager RSF № 14-14-01134 – PhD Alexander Prokin, the Earth Sciences Institute Associate Professor).
Source: UT Office of Strategic Communications