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Open AccessArticle

Local and Landscape Effects on Carrion-Associated Rove Beetle (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) Communities in German Forests

1
Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics, University of Ulm, 89069 Ulm, Germany
2
Richard-Wagnerstraße 9, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
3
Department of Evolutionary Animal Ecology, University of Bayreuth, 95447 Bayreuth, Germany
4
Department of Conservation and Research, Bavarian Forest National Park, 94481 Grafenau, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(12), 828; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11120828
Received: 15 October 2020 / Revised: 20 November 2020 / Accepted: 21 November 2020 / Published: 24 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Insect Ecology, Diversity and Conservation)
Increasing forest management practices by humans are threatening inherent insect biodiversity and thus important ecosystem services provided by them. One insect group which reacts sensitively to habitat changes are the rove beetles contributing to the maintenance of an undisturbed insect succession during decomposition by mainly hunting fly maggots. However, little is known about carrion-associated rove beetles due to poor taxonomic knowledge. In our study, we unveiled the human-induced and environmental drivers that modify rove beetle communities on vertebrate cadavers. At German forest sites selected by a gradient of management intensity, we contributed to the understanding of the rove beetle-mediated decomposition process. One main result is that an increasing human impact in forests changes rove beetle communities by promoting generalist and more open-habitat species coping with low structural heterogeneity, whereas species like Philonthus decorus get lost. Our results are not solely important for carrion ecological, but also for forensic entomological assessments on crime scenes, e.g., postmortem body relocation, because little information is available until now about rove beetles as one of the most important insect groups on bodies.
Intensification of anthropogenic land use is a major threat to biodiversity and thus to essential ecosystem services provided by insects. Rove beetles (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae), which react sensitively to habitat changes, are species-rich colonizers of vertebrate cadavers and contribute to the important ecosystem service of carrion decomposition. The unveiling of anthropogenic and environmental drivers that modify carrion-associated rove beetle communities should improve our understanding of the plasticity of cadaver decay. We report the presence of 80 rove beetle species on 65 decomposing piglet cadavers at forest sites characterized by a gradient of management intensity across three geographic regions in Germany. Local and landscape drivers were revealed that shape beetle abundance, diversity, and community composition. Forest management and regions affect rove beetle abundance, whereas diversity is influenced by local habitat parameters (soil pH, litter cover) and regions. The community composition of rove beetles changes with management intensification by promoting generalist species. Regarding single species, Philonthus decorus and Anotylus mutator are linked to unmanaged forests and Ontholestes tessellatus to highly used forest stands. The spatial information provided about carrion-associated rove beetle communities in German forests is not only of carrion-ecological but also of forensic entomological interest. View Full-Text
Keywords: rove beetle communities; land use; forest management; carrion decomposition; piglet cadaver; forensic entomology rove beetle communities; land use; forest management; carrion decomposition; piglet cadaver; forensic entomology
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MDPI and ACS Style

Weithmann, S.; Kuppler, J.; Degasperi, G.; Steiger, S.; Ayasse, M.; von Hoermann, C. Local and Landscape Effects on Carrion-Associated Rove Beetle (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) Communities in German Forests. Insects 2020, 11, 828.

AMA Style

Weithmann S, Kuppler J, Degasperi G, Steiger S, Ayasse M, von Hoermann C. Local and Landscape Effects on Carrion-Associated Rove Beetle (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) Communities in German Forests. Insects. 2020; 11(12):828.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Weithmann, Sandra; Kuppler, Jonas; Degasperi, Gregor; Steiger, Sandra; Ayasse, Manfred; von Hoermann, Christian. 2020. "Local and Landscape Effects on Carrion-Associated Rove Beetle (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) Communities in German Forests" Insects 11, no. 12: 828.

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