Cryptic speciation in the Acari: a function of species lifestyles or our ability to separate species?

  • Articles in SCI Journals
  • Aug, 2015

Skoracka, A., Magalhães, S., Rector, B.G. & Kuczyński, L. (2015) Cryptic speciation in the Acari: a function of species lifestyles or our ability to separate species? 

Experimental and Applied Acarology, 67, 165–182. DOI:10.1007/s10493-015-9954-8 (IF2015 1,812; Q1 Entomology)

There are approximately 55,000 described Acari species, accounting for almost half of all known Arachnida species, but total estimated Acari diversity is reckoned to be far greater. One important source of currently hidden Acari diversity is cryptic speciation, which poses challenges to taxonomists documenting biodiversity assessment as well as to researchers in medicine and agriculture. In this review, we revisit the subject of biodiversity in the Acari and investigate what is currently known about cryptic species within this group. Based on a thorough literature search, we show that the probability of occurrence of cryptic species is mainly related to the number of attempts made to detect them. The use of, both, DNA tools and bioassays significantly increased the probability of cryptic species detection. We did not confirm the generally-accepted idea that species lifestyle (i.e. free-living vs. symbiotic) affects the number of cryptic species. To increase detection of cryptic lineages and to understand the processes leading to cryptic speciation in Acari, integrative approaches including multivariate morphometrics, molecular tools, crossing, ecological assays, intensive sampling, and experimental evolution are recommended. We conclude that there is a demonstrable need for future investigations focusing on potentially hidden mite and tick species and addressing evolutionary mechanisms behind cryptic speciation within Acari.