Overview

Distribution

Geographic Range

These long-legged arachnids are found all around the world. They are most diverse in tropical Southeast Asia and South America, but there are harvestman species everywhere, even in much colder regions.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native ); oceanic islands (Introduced )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Harvestmen have small round bodies with eight very long, very thin legs. Like ticks and mites, harvestmen have evolved a tight connection between the two body sections that other Arachnids have. Their whole body is one round unit. On either side of their mouth they have short appendages called pedipalps that they use to hold food while they chew it.

Other Physical Features: bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Harvestmen need humid places to live. They are most often found in forests and caves, climbing on rocks and vegetation.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; polar ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: taiga ; desert or dune ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Harvestmen eat very small invertebrates, and scavenge on larger dead ones and dead plant material.

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Associations

Predation

These animals have large glands that produce toxic chemicals to keep predators away. They also can shed their legs, and move fast even if they loose a couple. If a predator grabs a leg, the harvestman will just leave it behind, still twitching and distracting the predator, while the rest of the animal gets away.

Known Predators:

  • Aves
  • Squamata
  • Anura
  • Tettigoniidae
  • Hymenoptera
  • Formicidae
  • Araneae

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Animal / pathogen
Entomophthora phalangicida infects adult of Opiliones

Animal / predator
nymph of Reduvius personatus is predator of Opiliones

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Known prey organisms

Opiliones (Opiliones 3 families 7 spp.) preys on:
Diptera
Collembola
Oniscidae
Plantae
live leaves
roots
fruit

Based on studies in:
Puerto Rico, El Verde (Rainforest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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Known predators

Opiliones (Opiliones 3 families 7 spp.) is prey of:
Amphisbaena caeca
Herpestes auropunctatus
Eleutherodactylus coqui
Eleutherodactylus richmondi
Anolis gundlachi
Sphaerodactylus klauberi
Diploglossus pleei

Based on studies in:
Puerto Rico, El Verde (Rainforest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Harvestmen have eyes, but don't see very well. They probably rely on touch and smell

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Life Cycle

Development

These animals have to shed their exoskeleton in order to grow. They don't change their shape much as they grow, just get bigger and grow longer legs. Often they hang upside down while shedding.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Usually only one year.

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Reproduction

Harvestmen mate, and then the females lay eggs in nests or crevices or other hidden places. They sometimes lay hundreds of eggs in one summer, in several separate batches.

Breeding season: The warm parts of the year.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; parthenogenic ; sexual ; oviparous

Females place their eggs in protected hidden places. Sometimes they guard their eggs and hatchlings, cleaning the eggs of any disease organisms. In a few harvestman species the male does the guarding and cleaning.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; male parental care ; female parental care

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:2,917Public Records:1,740
Specimens with Sequences:1,942Public Species:291
Specimens with Barcodes:1,735Public BINs:477
Species:387         
Species With Barcodes:340         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Opiliones

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