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Contrasting diversity dynamics of phoretic mites and beetles associated with vertebrate carrion.

Authors
  • Barton, Philip S
  • Weaver, Haylee J
  • Manning, Adrian D
Type
Published Article
Journal
Experimental and Applied Acarology
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
May 01, 2014
Volume
63
Issue
1
Pages
1–13
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10493-013-9758-7
PMID: 24292438
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Carrion is an ephemeral and nutrient-rich resource that attracts a diverse array of arthropods as it decomposes. Carrion-associated mites often disperse between animal carcasses using phoresy, the transport of one species by another. Yet few studies have contrasted the dynamics of mite assemblages with other insect taxa present at carrion. We examined and compared the changes in abundance, species richness and composition of mite and beetle assemblages sampled at kangaroo carcasses in a grassy eucalypt woodland at four different times over a 6-month period. We found that the majority of mites were phoretic, with the mesostigmatid genera Uroseius (Uropodidae), Macrocheles (Macrochelidae) and Parasitus (Parasitidae) the most abundant taxa (excluding astigmatid mites). Abundance and richness patterns of mites and beetles were very different, with mites reaching peak abundance and richness at weeks 6 and 12, and beetles at weeks 1 and 6. Both mites and beetles showed clear successional patterns via changes in species presence and relative abundance. Our study shows that mesostigmatid mite assemblages have a delay in peak abundance and richness relative to beetle assemblages. This suggests that differences in dispersal and reproductive traits of arthropods may contribute to the contrasting diversity dynamics of carrion arthropod communities, and further highlights the role of carrion as a driver of diversity and heterogeneity in ecosystems.

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