Oribatid mites occur from the tropics to the Antarctic in almost all terrestrial habitats and have even colonized the marine littoral, bogs and fresh waters. Numerous species are adapted to life on tree trunks, bark and lichens on trees. The highest species- and individual numbers are found in soils of the temperate zone with up to 200,000 individuals/m² in the humus layer of forest soils. As a part of the decomposer community, oribatid mites are very important for the fertility of soils. Their nutrition consists of dead plant particles, fungal hyphae and spores as well as algae and bacteria. By further breaking up dead plant fragments, they stimulate microfaunal growth.
The section Oribatida works mainly on oribatid mites in peat bogs. We investigate if oribatid mites can be used as indicator organisms for different ecological states of peat bogs. Furthermore, our focus is on basic research about nutrition of oribatid mites in peat bogs (stable isotopes), on consequences of small-scale heterogeneity and on genetic diversity of tyrphophilic oribatid mites. The role of passive and active dispersal during immigration into young soils is being investigated. Another focus are the dispersal mechanisms of oribatid mites (wind dispersal, water dispersal, active migration).
last update: 11/16