We examined the fauna inhabiting the leaves and small stems that compose the outermost canopy of Australian rainforests, and found them inhabited by an abundant and diverse fauna of mites (Acari), including scavenging-fungivores (especially oribatid mites), predators, and plant-parasites. Foliar mite species diversity and abundance was highest on structurally complex leaves, especially those with leaf domatia or erect tomenta. Tropical rainforest trees with hairs on their leaves averaged nearly three times as many species and five times as many individuals as those with smooth leaves. Some mite species were restricted to each leaf type. Subtropical rainforest trees and lianas with leaf domatia had twice as many species and three times as many mites as those on which domatia were blocked with bitumen paint. Patterns of mite abundance and diversity persisted through time with both foliar and stem-inhabiting mites increasing in abundance from the summer-rainy season through the autumn and winter dry periods. Oribatid mites also dominated the stem fauna, but the species composition on stems differed from that on leaves. Species turnover was high between samples within a tree, between tree species, and among sites for both leaf and stem mites, suggesting that the overall contribution of mites to canopy biodiversity is high.
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