Beetle succession and diversity between clothed sun-exposed and shaded pig carrion in a tropical dry forest landscape in Southern Mexico.
Over a 31-day period, the decomposition process, beetle diversity and succession on clothed pig (Sus scrofa L.) carcasses were studied in open (agricultural land) and shaded habitat (secondary forest) in Southern Mexico. The decomposition process was categorised into five stages: fresh, bloated, active decay, advanced decay and remains. Except for the bloated stage, the elapsed time for each decomposition stage was similar between open and shaded habitats, all carcasses reached an advanced decay stage in seven days, and the fifth stage (remains) was not recorded in any carcass during the time of this study. A total of 6344 beetles, belonging to 130 species and 21 families, were collected during the entire decomposition process, and abundances increased from fresh to advanced decay stages. Staphylinidae, Scarabaeidae and Histeridae were taxonomically and numerically dominant, accounting for 61% of the species richness and 87% of the total abundance. Similar numbers of species (87 and 88 species for open and shaded habitats, respectively), levels of diversity and proportions (open 49%; shaded 48%) of exclusive species were recorded at each habitat. There were significantly distinct beetle communities between habitats and for each stage of decomposition. An indicator species analysis ("IndVal") identified six species associated to open habitats, 10 species to shaded habitats and eight species to advanced decay stages. In addition, 23 beetle species are cited for the first time in the forensic literature. These results showed that open and shaded habitats both provide suitable habitat conditions for the carrion beetle diversity with significant differences in community structure and identity of the species associated to each habitat. This research provides the first empirical evidence of beetle ecological succession and diversity on carrion in Mexican agro-pastoral landscapes.