Determining Which Taxonomic Resolution Provides Greatest Insight to Impact of Mass Morality Events on Early Carrion Colonizers
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Mass mortality events (MME) impact local ecosystems especially in systems where insects play a major role in recycling carrion. Insects may be unable to efficiently recycle the carrion. Selecting the appropriate taxonomic resolution will be advantageous especially when assessing sensitivity of arthropod communities to variably sized MMEs. A collaborative study examining an artificial MME using feral swine (Sus scrofa Linnaeus) was conducted at Mississippi State University (MSU). Five different masses of swine carcasses ranging from 24.9 kg to 725.7 kg were placed in a pine forested area, starting in the spring of 2017. Different plots (1 km apart) were created based on density, carrion presence or absence and accessibility by scavengers. Sticky traps were placed among the plots to collect insects and were replaced as needed (between 24 hours and two weeks). Sticky traps were sent to Texas A&M University for identification of insects. This project involves determining the most useful and practical taxonomic level to identify insects using the MME experiment. Based on the different biomass sites, the hypothesis is the diversity and richness of the arthropod community will not vary at each site over time regardless of taxonomic resolution and the best taxonomic resolution is the species level.
Jones, Abby K (2018). Determining Which Taxonomic Resolution Provides Greatest Insight to Impact of Mass Morality Events on Early Carrion Colonizers. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from