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Fall Fund Drive

Mites and Ticks pages

Although there was no prior discussion in the Taxonomy forum, I see that the subclass Acari (Mites and Ticks) has had a major overhaul at BugGuide, with the addition of about 100 new Guide pages. The full taxonomic tree now looks like this.

Most of the changes are in the superorder Acariformes, which now lists 3 orders, 16 suborders, and 84 superfamilies. Almost all of the new pages contain no photos. For example, a browse through the suborder Brachypylina shows 4 pages of superfamily names but no photos.

The names were apparently copied from the "Acari Project" whose links on this page lead to lists of worldwide taxa and numbers of genera/species. It appears to be a good reference for nomenclature and taxonomy, although I don't know which (or how many) of its listed taxa occur in North America.

Linking to the "Acari Project" seems reasonable, but I see no point in creating empty pages which add more complexity to BugGuide while serving no purpose. Therefore, I suggest that all Acari pages currently lacking photos be removed, and that future pages be added only as needed - which is how BugGuide has always operated.

I wish to enter three pleas:
guilt, ignorance, and leniency.

I had posted unanswered questions about the need for reorganization of Acari on the old Acari Info page, never thinking that there might be a taxonomy forum. (I seldom poke around in the forum section so am a little ignorant about what all goes on there.)

At any rate, I had recruited a Trombidiidae specialist, Joanna Makol of Poland, to have a look at that mite section and she graciously agreed. I needed to create new pages to accommodate her IDs. However, the new pages needed to be placed at the proper level under an updated taxonomy system, so I used the Acari Project's revised taxonomy.

I'm sure I went overboard generating so many new pages down to the level of superfamily. As Robin notes, some or many of the superfamilies might not even live in the bugguide bioregion. I created these on a hideously slow computer so it took me a long time. I'm hesitant to remove any that our present supply of unidentified mites might fall into, so I ask that they remain in place until the end of February. This will give me time to get a mite generalist and umpteen specialists to look at our images. If this is allowed, I promise to delete all unused categories during March.

Most recently I was able to get help from water mite specialist Heather Proctor of Alberta. Our water mites are now IDed to genus. Contact info for specialists in other categories can be found at the Acari Project site and that is where I intend to prospect for ID assistance.

The pages with no images were scheduled for removal some time ago. I think the group could also benefit from a simplification of categories, similar to the proposal for Myriapoda here. I could help if you like...

Thanks for reminding me of my promise.
I realize I've been slacking. I'll get started on it this weekend.

Okay, fair enough.
The only unfortunate thing is that Google has already indexed these pages, which means that people could be directed to empty pages for the next two months, and then to "page not found" messages for some time afterward. Neither situation would reflect well on BugGuide, so the sooner the pages are removed, the better.

More Than Fair: Beggars Can't Be Choosers
I don't know what goes on in the smoky back rooms of contributing editors. I do hope that Jim and especially the volunteers he has recruited aren't put-off by the characterization of their efforts as "unfortunate". Whatever the intensions, that's how the paragraph reads. I found Jim's explanation for a seemingly absurd situation to be cogent, however, as I continued to read I doubted that the project would be completed by the deadline he mentioned.

Many are the editors that sincerely strive for the integrity of BugGuide. In that endeavor I suggest that identification of submissions by volunteer experts trumps all.

Doesn't matter
You're right, David. I might not have all the mites IDed by my deadline, and more are coming in all the time. But I do expect to have a bunch of them done by then.

I was surprised that each species of water mite fell into a different family/superfamily and the mites we had under Trombidiidae wound up being placed all over suborder Parsitengona. On that basis I would not be surpised to find that the rest of the unIDed mites belong to a bunch of superfamilies/suborders.

If I can process a majority by March first I will be content.

Thank you, Jim!
I had recently checked out the old book "How to Know the Mites and Ticks," in hopes of being able to better organize the Acari myself. It quickly became obvious that it was hopeless for anyone but a real acarologist! I would argue against removing any taxa pages too quickly, for a number of reasons, not the least of which are that we are bound to have exotic mites pouring into North America all the time. So what may be irrelevant today may be very relevant tomorrow. Oh, and I don't smoke:-)

You're welcome, Eric.

As long as we have access to the Acari project pages I have no problem removing a glut of unused pages beginning March 1, especially if they are resulting in fruitless search hits that make bugguide look bad to the acarology community.

We had assumed that Jim
was in the process of moving around all our images of Acariformes, but we weren't following this closely. Maybe he can tell us of his plans and the status of this project he has taken on.

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