• Siliceous speleothems can be developed between granite boulders
  • Siliceous speleothems have a needed biological stage in their development
  • A previously undescribed mite species participate in their construction and weathering
  • Mites are able to excavate niches in the speleothem to complete their life cycles
  • They secrete silk and have a single claw in the form of a hook


Acarines are well-documented as formative elements in the biocenosis of soils. However, their role in the construction and weathering of siliceous speleothems has received very little attention in previous research. The present study describes different groups of cavities (nesting/molting sites) excavated by these organisms in the surface of siliceous speleothems that are deposited in the fissures between various granite boulders in Southern Spain. There is evidence that there are immature stages that would survive the heat and drought of summer in the form of small larvae, or euedaphic nymphs, in the soil. This study provides the first description of how this particular variety of organism, typical of the ecosystems established on this type of speleothem, develops a specialized ecological niche that concurrently mobilizes and modifies a significant portion of the polymineralic grains that form the primary stage of the speleothem.



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