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The exploitation of fresh remains by Dermestes maculatus De Geer (Coleoptera, Dermestidae) and their ability to cause a localised and prolonged increase in temperature above ambient

Gunn, A (2018) The exploitation of fresh remains by Dermestes maculatus De Geer (Coleoptera, Dermestidae) and their ability to cause a localised and prolonged increase in temperature above ambient. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 59. pp. 20-29. ISSN 1752-928X

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The exploitation of fresh remains by Dermestes maculatus De Geer (Coleoptera, Dermestidae) and their ability to cause a localised and prolonged increase in temperature above ambient.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract

This article discusses the ability of adults of the coleopteran beetle Dermestes maculatus (De Geer) to colonise fresh remains. It also considers whether colonisation results in localised thermogenesis in a similar manner to that induced by blowfly larvae.
In the laboratory, adult D. maculatus instantly colonised fresh killed rats and mice. The adults entered the oral cavity within 1–2 h and the eyes and ears were among the first parts of the body consumed. Egg laying occurred on the torso and head within an hour of death and eggs hatched within 3–4 days. The larvae remained on the body whilst the adults (>70%) rested in the surrounding wood chippings when not feeding or laying eggs. Larvae grew rapidly on the dead bodies and some were starting to pupate within 28 days.

The dermestids consumed the corpses predominantly from the head downwards and weight loss correlated with the number of larvae produced. In both rats and mice, colonisation of the abdominal region was associated with an increase in temperature. The maximum abdominal temperature and the length of time the temperature remained 1 °C or more above ambient correlated with the number of larvae produced. This rise in temperature would probably be sufficient to increase the rate of development of dermestid larvae and that of any other invertebrate or microbe in the region. In the absence of dermestids, the internal temperature rarely rose 1 °C above ambient.

Although there are previously published accounts of dermestid beetles consuming fresh corpses, they are reputed to favour older desiccated remains. This paper confirms that D. maculatus rapidly consumes and reproduces on fresh remains. The fact that dermestid beetles are seldom found on fresh remains under field conditions is therefore probably a result of inter-specific competition among decomposing insects rather than food preference. This information could be useful when determining the forensic significance of D. maculatus recovered from dead bodies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1103 Clinical Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA1001 Forensic Medicine. Medical jurisprudence. Legal medicine
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2018 09:57
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2018 12:18
DOI or Identification number: 10.1016/j.jflm.2018.07.013
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9382

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