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Arthropods associated with wildlife carcasses in Lowland Rainforest, Rivers State, Nigeria

Osborne U. Ndueze, Mekeu A. E. Noutcha, Odidika C. Umeozor and Samuel N. Okiwelu

Investigations were conducted in the rainy season August-October, 2011, to identify the arthropods associated with carcasses of the Greater Cane Rat, Thryonomys swinderianus; two-spotted Palm Civet, Nandina binotata, Mona monkey, Cercopithecus mona and Maxwell’s duiker, Philantomba maxwelli in lowland rainforest, Nigeria. Collections were made from carcasses in sheltered environment and open vegetation. Carcasses were purchased inpairs at the Omagwa bushmeat market as soon as they were brought in by hunters. They were transported to theAnimal House, University of Port Harcourt. Carcasses of each species were placed in cages insheltered location and open vegetation. Flying insects were collected with hand nets, while crawling insects were trapped in water.Necrophages, predators and transients were collected. The dominant insect orders were: Diptera, Coleoptera and Hymenoptera. The most common species were the dipteran necrophages: Musca domestica (Muscidae), Luciliaserricata (Calliphoidae), Sacophaga haemorrhoidalis (Sarcophagidae) and the coleopteran, Octopus sp.(Staphylinidae) and Dermestes maculates (Dermestidae). The dominant hymenopteran was the fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata (Formicidae). These insect species were associated with each of the mammalian species. The transients were lepidopterans (butterflies, moths), odonatans (dragon flies) and orthopterans (grasshoppers). Differences in arthropod species richness were minimal among decomposing rodents, artiodactyls, primates and carnivores. Seasonal difference in species richness occurred in carcasses. In addition to the necrophages, scavengers, predators and parasites that have defined roles, other arthropods that have been variously described as cryptozoics, transients and artefacts also infested the decomposing carrion.