Temporal Survey of a Carrion Beetle (Coleoptera: Silphidae) Community in Indiana

  • Charity G. Owings Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Christine J. Picard Indiana University-Purudue University Indianapolis
Keywords: Silphidae, carrion, forensic entomology, Nicrophorus tomentosus


Carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) play an important role in vertebrate decomposition as
they utilize carcasses to carry out their life cycles. These beetles represent novel models for behavioral ecology,
and can act as important forensic indicators in death investigations. However, population and community
dynamics of silphids in Indiana are currently outdated. The aim of this study is to update surveys of a single
silphid community with high temporal resolution in order to explore diversity and abundance patterns over
time. Beetles were collected from Purdue University multiple times (N = 13) over a period of seven months in
order to assess population dynamics at a single site. A total of 1607 specimens constituting seven different
species were collected. Species abundance over time and space changed dramatically, and only one species
(Nicrophorus tomentosus Weber) was present in nearly all collections (eleven out of thirteen, June–October
2014). It was demonstrated that the community dynamics of silphids at a single site in Indiana aligns with
previous studies in the state. Additionally, the community structure of this family appears to change
drastically over time in the summer months.

Zoology and Entomology