Applications of acarology to decomposition ecology and legal investigations

Wednesday, November 13, 2013: 3:30 PM
Meeting Room 18 B (Austin Convention Center)
Charity Owings , Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Meaghan Pimsler , Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
One of the most overlooked arthropod groups associated with vertebrate decomposition are mites (Arachnida: Acari), which are cosmopolitan in distribution, and are often found utilizing decomposing vegetation or animal carcasses. Though minute in size, these animals may represent a large proportion of the carrion fauna as they can be present throughout all successional seres during decomposition. Although there has been a recent increase in the number of studies regarding the taxonomic representation and ecological strategies of carrion mites, this area remains understudied. This presentation will highlight models for the dispersal patterns to and from a carcass, as well as the life-strategies of forensically important mites. Literature regarding mite biology related to decomposition ecology and case studies in which mites were utilized as forensic evidence will be presented. Particular attention will be paid to a recent case in Texas in which a new mite species was discovered associated with human remains.