Insects on decomposing carcasses of small rodents in a secondary forest in Southeastern Brazil
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The decomposition of small carcasses in the open is frequently neglected although it may provide information of forensic importance. This paper describes an experimental study of arthropod species associated with carcasses of mouse, Mus musculus (Linnaeus, 1758) and rat, Rattus norvegicus (Berkenhout, 1769) (Rodentia: Muridae). Four carcasses were left inside iron cages in sunlit and shady areas in a secondary forest in Southeastern Brazil twice a season for four seasons (n = 16 carcasses of each rodent). The carcasses were removed when arthropods ceased to visit them. The visiting and colonizing invertebrates were collected daily and identified. Immatures were also collected and reared in a laboratory for identification. We collected 6,514 arthropods (820 adults and 5,694 juvenile forms) belonging to 53 species from the families Sarcophagidae, Calliphoridae, Muscidae, Fanniidae, Syrphidae, Richardiidae, Sepsidae, Micropezidae, Otitidae, Drosophilidae, Phoridae, Dolichopodidae, Anthomyiidae, Asilidae and Lauxaniidae (Diptera), Formicidae, Ichneumonidae, Encyrtidae and Apidae (Hymenoptera), Staphylinidae (Coleoptera) and Gonyleptidae (Opiliones). Lucilia eximia (Wiedemann, 1819) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and Peckia (Pattonella) intermutans (Walker, 1861) (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) deserve special attention because both adult and immature forms were collected in all seasons and in both areas. Our results indicate that the frequency of occurrence of these arthropods was positively associated with carcass size (mouse or rat); no marked insect succession on the carcasses occurred; and the diversity of Calliphoridae and Sarcophagidae was high, irrespective of season.