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Assemblages of Acari in shallow burials: mites as markers of the burial environment, of the stage of decay and of body-cadaver regions.

Rai, J. K., Pickles, B. J. ORCID: and Perotti, M. A. ORCID: (2021) Assemblages of Acari in shallow burials: mites as markers of the burial environment, of the stage of decay and of body-cadaver regions. Experimental and Applied Acarology. ISSN 0168-8162

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10493-021-00663-x


The burial of a cadaver results in reduced arthropod activity and disruptions in colonisation patterns. Here, the distribution and diversity of mite taxa was studied across decomposition stages of shallowly buried pig carcasses. A total of 300 mites (88 species) were collected from 3 pig shallow graves compared to 129 mites (46 species) from control (bare) soil samples at the same depth. A successional pattern of Acari Orders and Families was observed, and species richness and biodiversity fluctuated throughout decomposition, while active decay showed the greatest biodiversity. The Mesostigmata Order was the most abundant in cadaver soils with a significant difference in the abundance of Parasitidae mites, whilst Oribatida (true soil) mites were the most abundant in control soils. Certain mite species were significantly associated with decay stages: Cornigamasus lunaris with bloated; Gamasodes spiniger with active; Eugamasus sp., and Lorryia reticulata with advanced; and Macrocheles matrius and Ramusella clavipectinata in dry. Scheloribates laevigatus was a marker of bare soil at a shallow depth and Vulgoramasus remberti of buried decomposition, not specific to any decay stage. Analysis of mite assemblages associated with head, torso and posterior body showed that Parasitus evertsi and Macrocheles matrius are attracted to beneath the thighs whilst Lorryia reticulata to beneath the head. This study highlights the value of mites as indicator species of decomposition and its stages, confirming i) a succession of Acari on buried remains and ii) species specificity to body regions.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:97564
Publisher Statement:In press, released soon as Open Access


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