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Identifying genes involved in and genetic architecture of foraging in a predatory mite

D.C. Margolies, Y. Park  and J. Marshall

How animals forage for food is a core issue in ecology.  This process forms the basis of trophic interactions and plays a fundamental role in shaping population dynamics, food webs, and communities.  We are addressing the evolution of this process in the predatory mite Phytoseuiluspersimilis (Acari: Phytoseiidae) by focusing on three traits that are likely to affect fitness in complex landscapes, those being consumption rate, reproductive efficiency, and prey-dependent dispersal. The mechanisms underlying these traits determine the local and global abundances of both species as well as predator fitness. We are using genomic tools to study the genetic basis of and links between these foraging traits, individual fitness, and population dynamics.