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Mites (Acari) as a relevant tool in trace evidence and postmortem analyses of buried corpses

Rai, J. K., Amendt, J., Benhardt, V., Pasquerault, T., Lindström, A. and Perotti, M. A. ORCID: (2020) Mites (Acari) as a relevant tool in trace evidence and postmortem analyses of buried corpses. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 65 (6). pp. 2174-2183. ISSN 0379-0738

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/1556-4029.14506


This report interprets the presence of mite species in three clandestine graves in Europe, evaluating their potential use as trace evidence or markers. Grave 1 (Sweden): Two mite species Rhizoglyphus robini Claparède, 1869 and Parasitus loricatus (Wankel, 1861) were recovered from the surface of a body buried in a shallow grave in an area surrounded by trees, in close vicinity to house gardens. Grave 2 (Germany): Phoretic deutonymphs of Gamasodes spiniger (Trägårdh, 1910) were attached to an adult fly (Diptera: Sphaeroceridae) found within a shallow grave containing two human bodies covered in soil and dung. Grave 3 (France): P. loricatus were recovered from the soil around a body buried in a deep grave (80 cm under). In graves 1 and 3 both corpses were undergoing advanced decay and skeletisation, the locations match with the subterranean habit of P. loricatus; highlighting the value of this species as a marker of graves or burials in soil and during late decomposition. R. robini is a soil mite that feeds on decayed roots and bulbs; this mite species confirms the location of the corpse within top soil, agreeing with a more specific type of superficial burial, a shallow grave. In case 2, the presence of both coprophiles, the mite G. spiniger and the carrier fly confirm association of remains with dung or animal faeces. The three mite species are reported for the first time in human graves. There are no previous records of R. robini from Sweden.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:89731


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