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

item SKORACKA, ANNA - Adam Mickiewicz University
item MAGALHAES, SARA - University Of Lisbon
item Rector, Brian
item KUCZYNSKI, LECHOSLAW - Adam Mickiewicz University

Submitted to: Experimental and Applied Acarology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2015
Publication Date: 9/8/2015
Citation: Skoracka, A., Magalhaes, S., Rector, B.G., Kuczynski, L. 2015. Cryptic speciation in the Acari: a function of species lifestyles or our ability to separate species?. Experimental and Applied Acarology. 67(2):165-182.

Interpretive Summary: Mites and ticks (Class Arachnida, Subclass Acari) represent a large group of invertebrates, many of which are of economic, ecological and biological interest. However, compared to other groups such as insects, the Acari are understudied. Much of their overall diversity is currently unknown due to a variety of factors, including the phenomenon of cryptic speciation, in which species with different biological traits may appear identical morphologically. The purpose of this study was to investigate the basis of this lack of knowledge and to suggest ways to improve our understanding of cryptic species in the Acari. We conclude that approaches that integrate diverse analytic methods, such as morphometrics, DNA fingerprinting, biological assays and crossing experiments will increase our ability to identify cryptic species complexes when they occur.

Technical Abstract: 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 as well as to researchers in medicine and agriculture. In this review, we revisit the subject of biodiversity in Acari and investigate what is currently known about cryptic species within this group. Based upon a thorough literature search, we show that the probability of cryptic species occurrence is principally 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. In contrast to previous speculation, we failed to find any relationship between species lifestyle (i.e. free-living vs symbiotic) and the number of cryptic species detected. 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 potential hidden mite and tick species and addressing evolutionary mechanisms behind cryptic speciation within Acari.