Mites & ticks (Acari)
The Acari (mites and ticks) are a hyper-diverse group of minute arthropods. Some 50 000 species have been described worldwide, but there may be as many as half a million to one million species.In New Zealand, over 1200 species (in 540 genera belonging to over 180 families) had been described by the year 2000. It is estimated some 90% of the New Zealand mite species are waiting to be discovered and described.
Mite research projects focus primarily on taxonomic revisions and catalogues targeting groups of importance in pest control and biosecurity in New Zealand. These are carried out in conjunction with research on world fauna of the taxonomic groups concerned. The main objectives for the next few years are the preparation of Fauna of New Zealand contributions to the families Tetranychidae and Tarsonemidae.
Mites of Agroecosystems. This is a collaborative project with Dr Anne Baker (The Natural History Museum, London) to produce a major book to be published by Cambridge University Press.
Acari systematics and ecology. This is an ongoing collaborative project with Prof Qinghai Fan (Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University, Fuzhou, China) with funding from MAF Biosecurity New Zealand and National Natural Science Foundation of China. Two monographs were published: (1) Fan, Q.-H. & Zhang, Z.-Q. 2004. Revision of Rhizoglyphus Claparède (Acari: Acaridae) of Australasia and Oceania. Systematic & Applied Acarology Society, London. 374 pp.; (2) Fan, Q.-H. & Zhang, Z.-Q. 2005. Raphignathoidea (Acari: Prostigmata). Fauna of New Zealand Number 52. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, 400 pp. Several other research papers were published and a few more are in preparation.
Systematics of Tarsonemidae. This is collaborative project with Dr Jianzhen Lin (Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Fuzhou, China). A monograph was published (Lin, J.-Z. & Z.-Q. Zhang, 2002. Tarsonemidae of the World: Key to Genera, Geographical Distribution, Systematic Catalogue & Annotated Bibliograhy. Systematic & Applied Acarology Society, London, 440 pp.). In progress is a revision of Tarsonemus of New Zealand.
Systematics of Pyemotes. This is collaborative project with Lichen Yu (Hebei Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Changli, Hebei, China). A couple of manuscripts on Chinese and New Zealand Pyemotes are in preparation.