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Variability in Leptotrombidium europaeum and two new related chigger mite species (Acari: Trombiculidae) from Caucasus

A.A. Stekolnikov

Parazitologiya, 38(5): 388-405 (2004) (In Russian, English summary).


Two new chigger mite species closely related to Leptotrombidium europaeum (Daniel et Brelih, 1959) are described from small mammals collected in Caucasus and Transcaucasia. L. alanicum sp.n. differs from L. europaeum in having shorter legs (TaIII = 61—81, Ip = 734—927 versus 72—90, and 855—1017), shorter scutal and idiosomal setae (Dmin = 30—45, Dmax = 48—67, H = 59, PL = 58 versus 40—52, 54—69, 64, 63), slightly smaller scutum (AP = 25, SD = 47, PW = 89 versus 28, 50, 91), and more numerous idiosomal setae (87 versus 81). L. montanum sp. n. differs from L. europaeum in having more numerous idiosomal setae (102 versus 81), longer scutal and idiosomal setae (AM = 61, AL = 44, H = 68, Dmax = 66 versus 56, 41, 64, 62), thicker legs (TaW = 19 versus 18), and broader scutum (PW = 95 versus 91). Exact identification of both new species is possible only using classification functions constructed by means of discriminant analysis.

These three Leptotrombidium species expose sympatric distribution in Daghestan (Eastern Caucasus). L. alanicum and L. montanum also occurred together in Krasnodar Territory (Western Caucasus). Each of these species includes a number of local geographical forms precisely distinguished from each other. Morphometric differences between L. alanicum and L. montanum agree with eco-geographic rules being previously found in chigger mites from other genera. However, differences between local forms of these species show other tendencies, directed controversially in part. Therefore it is probable that interspecific differences in this case correspond to the variability which took place in the process of speciation.

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