Flora and Fauna on Backs of Large Papuan Moss-Forest Weevils

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Science  31 Dec 1965:
Vol. 150, Issue 3705, pp. 1833-1835
DOI: 10.1126/science.150.3705.1833


Large, living, flightless weevils feeding on leaves of woody plants high moss forest on various New Guinea mountain ranges have plant growth on their backs. Fungi and algae have been found on 11 species of Gymnopholus, lichens on six species, and liverworts on one species. In other genera of weevils, on the same mountains, there are additional specific associations with fungi, algae, lichens, and liverworts. The fungi and lichens, at least, are inhabited by oribatid mites of a new family, which may spread the plants from beetle to beetle. Also, nematodes, rotifers, psocids, and diatoms occur among the plants. Specialized scales or hairs, and a secretion, in depressions on the weevils' backs, appear to be associated with cpcouragement of the plant growth. Mutualistic symbiotic relationships seem to be clearly indicated.