One wonders what was going on in the mind of Carl Ludwig Koch when he proposed the genus Carabodes in 1835. The Greek root karabos also gives us the familiar carabid beetles and apparently was used by the ancient Greeks to refer to a beetle of some sort – and also for a shell-like boat. The Greek suffix –odes refers to similarity or likeness, so I must assume that Professor Koch found his beetle mite more beetle-like than most. Then again, maybe he thought it looked more like a boat.
There is no mystery, though, why Marcel Reeves called the above species polyporetes. Although he found this species in moss, lichens, various litters, and rotting wood, it seemed especially common in bracket fungi including Tramtes versicolor (from which this specimen was collected). Reeves (1991) cultured this species on the polypores Oxyporus populinus, Lenzites betulina and Laetiporus sulphureus. At room temperature development took 10-12 weeks. Room temperature is a rather vague term, but presumably 20-25 C, a much higher temperature than would be expected in bracket fungi in a northern forest.
The mite below, Carabodes labyrinthicus (Michael, 1879), extends well up into the Arctic tundra of northern Canada and Alaska, as well as well up the trunks of trees in more southerly areas (Andre 1975). The labyrinthine name undoubtedly comes from the tortuous tuberculate ridges on its back. Schneider (2005) placed this mite in her phycophage/fungivore feeding guild – it feeds on lichens and algae. When they aren’t burrowing in fungal sporocarps, lichens seem to be a preferred host for Carabodes species. In another laboratory study, Serge Ermilov introduced adult Carabodes subarcticus Trägårdh, 1902, to culture vials with lichens and algae. Adults fed primarily on Cladonia lichens and less so on Pleuroccocus algae. Larvae appeared 4-5 weeks later and burrowed into the lichen thallus. New adults appeared after 86-145 days, similar to the developmental period (69-202 days) of Carabodes willmanni Bernini, 1975, also reared on Cladonia lichens (Bellido 1990).
Andre, H. 1975. Observation sur les Acariens corticoles de Belgique.” Fondation Universitaire Luxembourgeoise. Serie Notes de Recherches 4: 5–31.
Bellido, A. 1990. Caracteristiques biodemographiques d’un acarien oribate (Carabodes willmanni) des pelouses xerophiles, Canadian Journal of Zoology 68: 2221–2229.
Ermilov, S.G. 2011. The biology of the development of the oribatid mite Carabodes subarcticus (Acari, Carabodidae). Entomological Review 91: 515–523
Reeves, R.M. 1991. Carabodes niger Banks, C. polyporetes n. sp., and unverified records of C. areolatus Berlese (Acari: Oribatida: Carabodidae) in North America, Canadian Journal of Zoology 69: 2925–2934.
Schneider, K. 2005. Feeding biology and diversity of oribatid mites (Oribatida, Acari). PhD thesis, Technical University, Darmstadt, Germany.