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      The Attraction of the Dung Beetle Anoplotrupes stercorosus (Coleoptera: Geotrupidae) to Volatiles from Vertebrate Cadavers


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          During decomposition, vertebrate carrion emits volatile organic compounds to which insects and other scavengers are attracted. We have previously found that the dung beetle, Anoplotrupes stercorosus, is the most common dung beetle found on vertebrate cadavers. Our aim in this study was to identify volatile key compounds emitted from carrion and used by A. stercorosus to locate this nutritive resource. By collecting cadaveric volatiles and performing electroantennographic detection, we tested which compounds A. stercorosus perceived in the post-bloating decomposition stage. Receptors in the antennae of A. stercorosus responded to 24 volatiles in odor bouquets from post-bloating decay. Subsequently, we produced a synthetic cadaver odor bouquet consisting of six compounds (benzaldehyde, DMTS, 3-octanone, 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-ol, nonanal, dodecane) perceived by the beetles and used various blends to attract A. stercorosus in German forests. In field assays, these beetles were attracted to a blend of DMTS, 3-octanone, and benzaldehyde. Generalist feeding behavior might lead to the super-dominant occurrence of A. stercorosus in temperate European forests and have a potentially large impact on the exploitation and rapid turnover of temporally limited resources such as vertebrate cadavers.

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          Implementing large-scale and long-term functional biodiversity research: The Biodiversity Exploratories

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            Microbial volatile emissions as insect semiochemicals.

            We provide a synthesis of the literature describing biochemical interactions between microorganisms and insects by way of microbial volatile organic compound (MVOC) production. We evaluated the functionality and ecological context of MVOC signals, and explored important metabolic pathways involved in MVOC production. The cosmopolitan distribution of microorganisms creates a context for frequent, and frequently overlooked, insect responses to microbial emissions. There are numerous instances of MVOCs being closely associated with insect feeding behaviors, but some MVOCs are also powerful repellants. Emissions from microorganisms in situ may signal aspects of habitat suitability or potential exposure to entomopathogens. In some ecosystems, bacterial or fungal volatiles can also incite insect aggregations, or MVOCs can resemble sexual pheromones that elicit mating and oviposition behaviors from responding insects. A single microorganism or MVOC can have different effects on insect behaviors, especially across species, ontogenies, and habitats. There appears to be a multipartite basis for insect responses to MVOCs, and complex tritrophic interactions can result from the production of MVOCs. Many biochemical pathways for behaviorally active volatile production by microbial species are conserved across large taxonomic groupings of microorganisms. In addition, there is substantial functional redundancy in MVOCs: fungal tissues commonly produce polyketides and short-chain alcohols, whereas bacterial tissues tend to be more commonly associated with amines and pyrazines. We hypothesize that insect olfactory responses to emissions from microorganisms inhabiting their sensory environment are much more common than currently recognized, and that these signals represent evolutionarily reliable infochemicals. Insect chemoreception of microbial volatiles may contribute to the formation of neutral, beneficial, or even harmful symbioses and provide considerable insight into the evolution of insect behavioral responses to volatile compounds.
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              Cadaver decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems.

              A dead mammal (i.e. cadaver) is a high quality resource (narrow carbon:nitrogen ratio, high water content) that releases an intense, localised pulse of carbon and nutrients into the soil upon decomposition. Despite the fact that as much as 5,000 kg of cadaver can be introduced to a square kilometre of terrestrial ecosystem each year, cadaver decomposition remains a neglected microsere. Here we review the processes associated with the introduction of cadaver-derived carbon and nutrients into soil from forensic and ecological settings to show that cadaver decomposition can have a greater, albeit localised, effect on belowground ecology than plant and faecal resources. Cadaveric materials are rapidly introduced to belowground floral and faunal communities, which results in the formation of a highly concentrated island of fertility, or cadaver decomposition island (CDI). CDIs are associated with increased soil microbial biomass, microbial activity (C mineralisation) and nematode abundance. Each CDI is an ephemeral natural disturbance that, in addition to releasing energy and nutrients to the wider ecosystem, acts as a hub by receiving these materials in the form of dead insects, exuvia and puparia, faecal matter (from scavengers, grazers and predators) and feathers (from avian scavengers and predators). As such, CDIs contribute to landscape heterogeneity. Furthermore, CDIs are a specialised habitat for a number of flies, beetles and pioneer vegetation, which enhances biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems.

                Author and article information

                27 July 2020
                August 2020
                : 11
                : 8
                : 476
                [1 ]Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics, University of Ulm, 89069 Ulm, Germany; manfred.ayasse@ 123456uni-ulm.de
                [2 ]Chair of Wildlife Ecology and Management, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany; Christian.vonHoerman@ 123456npv-bw.bayern.de
                [3 ]Department of Visitor Management and National Park Monitoring, Bavarian Forest National Park, 94481 Grafenau, Germany
                [4 ]Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, 97074 Würzburg, Germany; thomas.schmitt@ 123456uni-wuerzburg.de
                [5 ]Department of Evolutionary Animal Ecology, University of Bayreuth, 95447 Bayreuth, Germany; sandra.steiger@ 123456uni-bayreuth.de
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                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 07 July 2020
                : 24 July 2020

                carrion decomposition,piglet cadaver,volatile organic compounds (vocs),insect attraction,gc-ead,synthetic cadaver volatiles


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