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1 July 2008 Larval Competition of Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies (Diptera: Calliphoridae): Behavior and Ecological Studies of Two Blow Fly Species of Forensic Significance
Shiuh-Feng Shiao, Ta-Chuan Yeh
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Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies are two predominant necrophagous species in Taiwan. Larvae of the latter can prey on other maggots, including that of their own species as facultative food. This facultative characteristic of C. rufifacies may enhance its competitive advantage over other maggots and could also change the situation of other coexisting colonies. In this study, these two species were colonized in the laboratory, and the main objective was to try to understand the effect of competition on larval development. According to our results, intraspecific competition mostly occurred as competition for food; when the rearing density was increased, larvae pupated earlier, resulting in a lighter adult dry weight. The tendencies were similar in both species, but C. megacephala developed smaller viable adults and had higher survivorship at high densities. Although C. rufifacies could use the food resource of cannibalism, its survivorship was still low. Our results also showed there were significant interactions between intraspecific competition and the density factor. However, with interspecific competition, the first-instar larvae of C. rufifacies invaded maggot masses of C. megacephala to feed together. The third instars of C. rufifacies were able to expel C. megacephala larvae from food by using a fleshy protrusion on their body surface; C. megacephala was usually forced to pupate earlier by shortening its larval stages. The results indicated that a temporary competitive advantage could only be obtained by C. rufifacies under a proper larval density. In addition, the effects on different larval stages, the responses to different competition intensities, and the temperature-dependent effects on interspecific competition are also discussed. In general, under mixed-species rearing at different temperatures and densities, larval duration, adult dry weight, and survivorship of both species decreased. However, our results did not completely agree with previous studies, and we suspect that the difference was partially caused by different experimental designs and different biological characters of different blow fly colonies. Our results also suggest that both the predation ability and defense or escape activity should be taken into account when evaluating larval competitive advantages. The durations of larval stages of these two species could be decreased by ≈54 h when a single species was reared alone and food was limited; the largest reduction in larval duration, ≈25 h in C. megacephala and 34 h in C. rufifacies, caused by interspecific competition was under a high larval density. In conclusion, competition decreased the larval duration of these two species by up to 2 d; this also draws attention to justifying the postmortem interval estimation of using larval developmental data when larval competition exists.

Shiuh-Feng Shiao and Ta-Chuan Yeh "Larval Competition of Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies (Diptera: Calliphoridae): Behavior and Ecological Studies of Two Blow Fly Species of Forensic Significance," Journal of Medical Entomology 45(4), 785-799, (1 July 2008).[785:LCOCMA]2.0.CO;2
Received: 4 September 2007; Accepted: 21 March 2008; Published: 1 July 2008

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forensic entomology
larval competition
postmortem interval
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