Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 49, Issue 1–2, pp 45–84 | Cite as

Carcases and mites

  • Henk R. Braig
  • M. Alejandra Perotti


Mites are involved in the decomposition of animal carcases and human corpses at every stage. From initial decay at the fresh stage until dry decomposition at the skeletal stage, a huge diversity of Acari, including members of the Mesostigmata, Prostigmata, Astigmata, Endeostigmata, Oribatida and Ixodida, are an integral part of the constantly changing food webs on, in and beneath the carrion. During the desiccation stage in wave 6 of Mégnin’s system, mites can become the dominant fauna on the decomposing body. Under conditions unfavourable for the colonisation of insects, such as concealment, low temperature or mummification, mites might become the most important or even the only arthropods on a dead body. Some mite species will be represented by a few specimens, whereas others might build up in numbers to several million individuals. Astigmata are most prominent in numbers and Mesostigmata in diversity. More than 100 mite species and over 60 mite families were collected from animal carcases, and around 75 species and over 20 families from human corpses.


Carrion Carcass Corpse Cadaver Animal decomposition Necrophagy Necrophagia Succession Post mortem interval 



The authors appreciate the funding of research on forensic acarology by the Leverhulme Trust. Additional information was kindly provided by M. Lee Goff, Paola Magni, Marta I. Saloña-Bordas and Francis D. Feugang Youmessi. The authors like to thank Mariló Moraza and Barry M. OConnor for advice and reviewing an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesBangor UniversityBangorUK
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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