Diversity of phytoseiid mites (Acari: Mesostigmata: Phytoseiidae) in the Atlantic Forest of São Paulo
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The objective of this study was to evaluate the diversity of Phytoseiidae in the Atlantic Forest of São Paulo State, Brazil, and to estimate the possible role of this ecosystem as a reservoir for mites of this family. Samples were taken from 187 plant species belonging to 73 plant families in three vegetation types of the Atlantic Forest, from February 2001 to October 2002. In total, 1102 specimens of 54 species belonging to 20 genera of the three phytoseiid subfamilies were found. Most specimens (93%) and species (91%) belonged to the Amblyseiinae. The majority of species found belong to taxonomic groups largely composed of generalist predators (especially Amblyseius and Euseius). In general, the more abundant mites were found on a diversity of plant species, but a few of the abundant species were found on only a small number of plant species. Only nine of the mites encountered during this study are of known agricultural importance. The results obtained suggest the importance of the wide plant diversity in the region to sustain a wide diversity of phytoseiids. The extensive clearance of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is a threat to the diversity of these mites, important predators of mite pests.