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Sensitivity of Arthropod and Microbial Communities Associated with Vertebrate Carrion in Response to Delayed Blow Fly Access: Implication for Carrion Ecology and Forensic Entomology
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The objectives of this study were to determine the sensitivity of microbial metabolic community profiles, terrestrial and soil arthropod community structures and function, and soil chemistry dynamics associated with carrion experiencing delayed Diptera colonization. Bacterial metabolism profiles indicate a significant difference between carrion with immediate insect access (Control) and carrion with delayed insect colonization for seven days and 14 days (Treatments). In contrast, soil samples demonstrated no significant change in soil microbial metabolic profiles in 2013, but exhibited significant difference in 2014 trial. These results suggest high sensitivity of microbial community function on pig carrion, but a stochastic response in the soil microbial ecosystem. This phenomenon may be due to the significant abiotic change in the temperatures as well as the differences in the amount of precipitation between trials. Soil chemistry profiles were significantly different between Control and Treatment carcasses. Furthermore, significant differences were found between days of decomposition (temporal sensitive) and soil regions (spatial sensitive). Soil nutrients, such as ammonium, phosphate, non-purgeable organic carbon and total nitrogen were sensitive to treatment effects, but nitrate was not. The treatment effects, community divergence, convergence and resilience for aboveground and belowground arthropods depended on trial, sampling methods (sticky traps, pitfall traps, and sweep nets), taxonomic resolutions (Order, Family, and Genus) and ecological indices (richness, Simpson’s diversity, Shannon-Wiener’s diversity, evenness, and effective number of species) tested. In general, soil arthropod (including acari) community structures were sensitive to treatment effects only at the Family level. The total abundance of acari was not significantly different across treatments in all-sampling days. For aboveground arthropod community structure and function trapped by sticky traps, significant differences in treatments were detected at the Order and Genus levels for both pitfall traps and sweep nets. The present study demonstrated that insect succession on carrion by family level is predictable. However, insect succession by genus level demonstrated stochasticity when dealing with disturbances. Hence, both Clementsian and Gleasonian models explained insect succession and scale matters with regards to these ecological phenomena. These data are valuable for a host of applications, such as forensic sciences, disease ecology, and conservation biology.
Arthropod Community Structure and Function
Delayed Blow Fly Access
Community Divergence and Convergence
Heo, Chong Chin (2016). Sensitivity of Arthropod and Microbial Communities Associated with Vertebrate Carrion in Response to Delayed Blow Fly Access: Implication for Carrion Ecology and Forensic Entomology. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from