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Mouthpart Modifications Correlated with Fungivory Among Aleocharine Staphylinids (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Aleocharinae)
Editor(s): Carl W. Schaefer; Richard A. B. Leschen
Author(s): James S. Ashe
Print Publication Date: 1993

Known instances of fungivory among aleocharine staphylinid beetles are reviewed, and mouthpart modifications presumably correlated with different types of fungivory are discussed. Members of the Aleocharinae have exploited only a limited subset of the available fungal resources. Consequently, many structural patterns that characterize other groups of fungivorous beetles are not known to occur among aleocharines. Three major fungivorous feeding modes are known among aleocharines and their correlated mouthparts: (1) Hymenium scraping/sporophagy by the obligately mycophagous gyrophaenine staphylinid beetles is correlated with development of a highly derived maxillary spore brush in both larvae and adults. Associated with the development of a spore brush is subsequent loss of the grasping and manipulative function of the inner face of the maxilla. (2) Context feeding on mushrooms is found primarily among members of the subtribe Bolitocharina, which are facultatively mycophagous. This feeding mode is correlated with proliferation of denticles in the ventral molar region of adult mandibles. Larval mouthparts are relatively generalized. (3) Microphagous feeding on surface molds, spores, and hyphae has evolved independently in the genera Meronera (tribe Athetini) and Placusa (tribe Placusini). These beetles have independently evolved rows of large denticles on the dorsal molar surface of the adult mandibles as well as subtle modifications of larval mouthparts. No fungivorous aleocharine group has re-evolved an enlarged molar lobe (“pseudomola”) of the type which characterizes some secondarily mycophagous beetle lineages. However, aleocharines have modified the molar area to produce a dentate or asperite surface in at least two separate ways and at least three independent times. In both Meronera and Placusa, the dorsal molar patch of tiny spinules is modified into prominent rows of teeth; and members of the subtribe Bolitocharina have a large, dense patch of denticles on the ventral molar area.

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