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First contribution of mites (Acari) to the forensic analysis of hanged corpses: a case study from Spain

Saloña-Bordas, M. I. and Perotti, M. A. ORCID: (2014) First contribution of mites (Acari) to the forensic analysis of hanged corpses: a case study from Spain. Forensic Science International, 244. e6-e11. ISSN 0379-0738

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.08.005


This case study from North Spain, highlights the importance of the collection of mites in addition to insects, from crime scenes or corpses subjected to environmental constraints that reduce or minimise insect activity, such as hanged corpses. In addition, this analysis highlights the relevance of arthropods’ collection in the field, even after the corpse has been moved away for autopsy. Four species of mites, phoretic on carrion (Silphidae) and rove (Staphylinidae) beetles, complemented and reinforced the autopsy analysis as well as the scarce information provided by insect activity. Poecilochirus carabi Canestrini & Canestrini, 1882 and Poecilochirus (Physoparasitus) davydovae Hyatt, 1980 (Mesostigmata: Parasitidae) were found in association with two Silphidae, Nicrophorus Fabricius, 1775 and Necrodes Leach, 1815, only when sampled in the autopsy room; this is suggestive of host-switching of mites and was likely due to the lack of availability of specific carriers in the field. The interpretation of the activity of Parasitidae mites both in the field and the autopsy room allows a better understanding of the timing and circumstances of decomposition. Phoretic deutonymphs of Pelzneria Scheucher 1957 (Astigmata: Histiostomatidae) were highly abundant, mostly P. crenulata Oudemans, 1909 and are reported for the first time on a Staphylinidae rove beetle, Creophilus maxillosus (L., 1758). Surprisingly, in this case study no Pelzneria were associated with the Silphidae found, which are their most common hosts, such as Necrodes littoralis (L., 1758) and Nicrophorus interruptus (Stephens, 1830). All histiostomatids were removed from the staphylinid (rove beetle) collected from the soil, at the scene of death, suggesting a recent arrival of the beetle. The occurrence of Staphylinidae beetles and their associated mites, such as Parasitidae and Pelzneria, and the information they provided would have been easily overlooked or lost if only the autopsy sampling would have been considered in the analysis of the case. The four mite species are reported for the first time for the Iberian Peninsula.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:37413
Uncontrolled Keywords:Hanged corpse; Silphidae; Staphylinidae; Poecilochirus; Pelzneria

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