Scientist: Dr. Axel Christian
Institution: Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz
Gamasina (gamasina mites) belong to the mesostigmatic mites, forming an important cohort among them. The majority of gamasine mites are predators; some families, however, parasitize on other arthropods or vertebrates. Their body length ranges from about 300 µm to app. 2 mm. Prominent members of gamasine mites are the Varroa mite (Varroidae), parasitizing on honey bees, and the poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae). In central Europe 800 to 1000 of soil dwelling gamasine species are assumed.
Because of their predatory life style, the Gamasina do not have a direct influence on litter decomposition. Furthermore, their influence on prey populations is controversial. Beyond question, however, is their large contribution to mite biomass and a high metabolic activity due to their high mobility. Therefore, the Gamasina comprise one of the most important mite groups in terms of energy flow.
In comparison to other soil arthropods, Gamasina have a relatively homogeneous distribution in forest soils. This allows reliable recording of population densities even by small numbers of soil samples. Moreover, central European Gamasina have been well studied taxonomically in past. This has resulted in an extensive literature record, including elaborate identification keys facilitating the evaluation of mite samples.