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The arthropods of corpses from above ground and from deep below

Perotti, M. A. ORCID: and Braig, H. R. (2022) The arthropods of corpses from above ground and from deep below. In: XVI International Congress of Acarology, 1-5 Dec 2022, Auckland, New Zealand, (Zoosymposia, 22. ISSN 1178-9913)

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To link to this item DOI: 10.11646/ZOOSYMPOSIA.22.1.97


The Acari are the most ubiquitous arthropod inhabitants and associates of human and animal remains. Over 150 years ago Jean Pierre Mégnin already proposed two waves of mites arriving to corpses1, now we know that they occur at each stage of the decomposition process. Mite species composition varies between stages of decomposition and in relation to the environment where decomposition takes place2. A corpse on the surface, outdoors, will attract a variety of carrion insects, each of which will bring its own phoretic mites3. A corpse buried deep under will likely support a large population of a single mite species consuming the mummified remains; these are mites introduced either with the corpse itself or with coffin flies. A corpse in a shallow grave will be exposed to both, the phoretically arriving mite species of a surface corpse as well as the full diversity of soil and epigean mites in the upper layer of the substratum4, according to how shallow the remains decompose. All mite species inform of the process of decomposition, providing evidence of what, where, why, and how5. In particular, in mass graves (communal burials), mites plus other arthropods that are transferred to the grave due to association with humans before death, e.g. dust mites, lice and their nits, sarcoptic mange, etc.6,7, can inform of time, relocation, and pre-mortem circumstances, such as events of torture, abandonment, or health status of the host. This work examines the role these arthropods have in a variety of decomposition environments and processes, highlighting their relevance as unique trace evidence.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:109847

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