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DNA barcoding reveals generalization and host overlap in hummingbird flower mites: implications for the Mating Rendezvous Hypothesis

Citation

Bizzarri, Laura; Baer, Christina; Garcia-Robledo, Carlos (2022), DNA barcoding reveals generalization and host overlap in hummingbird flower mites: implications for the Mating Rendezvous Hypothesis, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.crjdfn35b

Abstract

Hummingbird flower mites are assumed to monopolize single host plant species due to sexual selection for unique mating rendezvous sites. We tested the main assumption of the Mating rendezvous hypothesis -extreme host specialization- by reconstructing interactions among tropical hummingbird flower mites and their host plants using DNA barcoding and taxonomic identifications. We collected 10,654 mites from 489 flowers. We extracted DNA from 1928 mite specimens and amplified the cytochrome c oxidase I (CO1) DNA barcode. We analyzed the network structure to assess the degree of generalization or specialization of mites to their host plants. We recorded 18 species of hummingbird flower mites from three genera (Proctolaelaps, Rhinoseius and Tropicoseius) interacting with 14 species of plants. We found that generalist mites are common, and congeneric mite species often share host plants. Our results challenge the assumption of strict specialization that supports this system as an example of mating rendezvous evolution.