Research interests

  • Olfactory attraction of necrophagous and necrophilous beetles
  • Forensic Entomology / Chemoecology
  • Cadaver odour (Volatile organic cadaveric odour compounds)
  • Beetles on cadavers and their application in medico-legal investigations

Scientific projects

My research deals with olfactory attraction of carcass associated beetles to cadavers.

Time-changing volatile profiles of cadavers are attended by changes in succession patterns of carrion insects. We can exactly use this circumstance in medico-legal practice to set limits for carrion exposure times or post mortem interval (PMI) calculations, when age estimation of strongly decomposed human cadavers is no longer possible by means of classical medico-legal methods.

In my study I investigate the odour attraction of the hide beetle Dermestes maculatus whose larvae appear in huge quantities on dried out cadaver remains. Within very short time they produce an enormous biomass deficit. It is of research interest which specific compounds in the cadaver odour bouquet are responsible for attraction of egg depositing female beetles to cadavers. In a comparative chemo-ecology approach I also investigate the generalistic appearance of the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides at big carcasses in contrast to the narrow succession-niche species D. maculatus.

 

Publications

Engel KC,  von Hoermann C, Eggert A-K, Müller JK, Steiger S (2014) When males stop having sex: adaptive insect mating tactics during parental care. Animal Behaviour 90:245-253

von Hoermann C., Steiger S., Müller J. K., Ayasse M. (2013) Too fresh is unattractive! The attraction of newly emerged Nicrophorus vespilloides females to odour bouquets of large cadavers at various stages of decomposition, PLoS ONE, 8(3): e58524. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058524

von Hoermann C., Ruther J., Ayasse M. (2012) The attraction of virgin female hide beetles (Dermestes maculatus) to cadavers by a combination of decomposition odour and male sex pheromones, Frontiers in Zoology, 9: 18; doi:10.1186/1742-9994-9-18

Von Hoermann C., Ruther J., Reibe S., Madea B., Ayasse M. (2011) The importance of carcass volatiles as attractants for the hide beetle Dermestes maculatus (De Geer), Forensic Science International, 212: 173 - 179


Conference contributions

von Hoermann C., Steiger S., Müller J. K., Ayasse M. (2013) Don't smell too fresh! The
attraction of newly emerged Nicrophorus vespilloides females (Coleoptera: Silphidae) to
odour bouquets of large cadavers (Sus domesticus) in different stages of decomposition
,
Lecture presented at the 10th Meeting of the European Association for Forensic
Entomology, Coimbra, Portugal

von Hoermann C., Steiger S., Müller J. K., Ayasse M. (2013) Too fresh is unappetising!
The attraction of newly emerged Nicrophorus vespilloides females to odour bouquets of
differently decomposed large cadavers
, Lecture presented at the Entomologentagung,
Göttingen, Germany

v. Hoermann C., Steiger S., Müller J. K., Ayasse M. (2012) The attraction of newly
emerged Nicrophorus vespilloides females (Coleoptera: Silphidae) to odour bouquets of
large cadavers (Sus domesticus) in different stages of decomposition
, Lecture presented
at the congress of the "Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft" (DZG), Konstanz, Germany

v. Hoermann C., Ruther J., Ayasse M. (2012) The attraction of virgin female hide beetles (Dermestes maculatus) to cadavers, Lecture presented at the 9th Meeting of the European Association for Forensic Entomology, Torun, Poland

v. Hoermann C., Ruther J., Reibe S., Madea B., Ayasse M. (2011) The importance of carcass volatiles as attractants for the hide beetle Dermestes maculatus (De Geer), Lecture presented at the Entomologentagung, Berlin, Germany

v. Hoermann C., Ruther J., Ayasse M. (2011) Wie finden weibliche, paarungsbereite Dornspeckkäfer (Dermestes maculatus) zum Kadaver? Lecture presented at the Chemoökologentagung "Chemische Ökologie in Baden-Württemberg und Bayern", University of Ulm, Germany

v. Hoermann C., Ruther J., Reibe S., Madea B., Ayasse M. (2010) Die Bedeutung von Kadaverduftstoffen zur Anlockung des Dornspeckkäfers Dermestes maculatus (De Geer), Lecture presented at the Chemoökologentagung „Chemische Ökologie in Baden-Württemberg“, University of Hohenheim, Germany

 

Press coverage

Scent of sex and death attracts virgin female beetles:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22171-scent-of-sex-and-death-attracts-virgin-female-beetles.html

Contact

  • Dipl. Biol. Christian von Hoermann
  • Institute of Experimental Ecology
  • University of Ulm
  • Albert Einstein Allee 11
  • D 89069 Ulm, Germany
  • Tel. +49 (0)731 50 22662
  • Fax +49 (0)731 50 22683
  • Office: M25/5, 578
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