New Mite Species Discovered— Grizzly Bears of the Soil World

Jim Herbers

The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute has laid out a grid of 1656 points across the entire province, with each point 20 kilometres apart. The data collected from these sites gives scientists a measure of the changing state of biodiversity in Alberta.
When ABMI researchers collect samples from these sites, they check for various kinds of flora and fauna in the water, in the trees, on the ground, and in the soil. And it’s not uncommon to discover new species.
Of particular interest are mites, tiny invertebrates that play a big role in maintaining the health of our soils.
Jim Herbers, director for information for the ABMI, says,“We’re very proud to report that there are well over 100 new species to Canada that we’ve identified and well over 30 new species to the world.”
These mites are microscopic, but don’t let their diminutive size fool you. Herbers explains, “Some of them are like the grizzly bears of the soil world. They go around and they’re predators. Many of them are frugivores. Many of them eat fungus and mushrooms. And then there are a number of other species that live in the soil that break down the soil organic matter, making sure that it’s turned over and that the nutrients are available for plants to use.”
These new species of mites were identified for the ABMI when scientists at the Royal Alberta Museum analyzed soil samples collected from the grid points

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