Research interests

  • Forensic Entomology / Chemoecology
  • Microbiome of decomposing piglet cadavers
  • Cadaver odor (cadaveric volatile organic compounds)
  • chemical attraction of necrophilous flies and beetles to vertebrate carrion
  • decomposition processes influenced by anthropogenic land use

Scientific projects

Influence of anthropogenic land use intensity on carrion associated insects which are attracted by cadaveric volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

In anthropogenic affected landscapes, increased forest management is influencing the biodiversity of naturally occurring organisms and hence ecosystem services. Recent studies show a current loss of biodiversity due to small- and large-scale land use intensification. Therefore, land use intensity may decelerate the decomposition rate of vertebrate carcasses, slow down nutrient cycles and thus ecosystem services get lost.
In terrestrial ecosystems, the decomposition process of vertebrate carrion is marked by a successional colonization of various insects. Necrophilous and/or necrophagous insects like flies and beetles are attracted by cadaver odors (microbial volatile organic compounds) which are produced and emitted by microorganisms on the carcass. Changes in the composition of the cadaver microbiome due to land use intensification may alter the production of these cadaver odor bouquets and thus may lead to a modified attraction of the carrion fauna.
In this context, I study the influence of land use intensity on cadaveric microbial communities and thus changes in the chemical attraction of carrion associated flies (Lucilia sp.) and beetles (N. vespilloides and A. stercorosus).   

 

 

Conference contributions

Weithmann S, von Hoermann C, Steiger S, Ayasse M (2017) Abundance of dung-associated beetles on carrion in anthropogenic affected habitats (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea). 14th Meeting of the European Association for Forensic Entomology, Treviso, Italy (Talk)

Weithmann S, von Hoermann C, Steiger S, Ayasse M (2017) Abundance of dung-associated beetles on carrion in anthropogenic affected habitats (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea). Entomologentagung, Freising, Germany (Talk)
 
Weithmann S, von Hoermann C, Steiger S, Ayasse M (2017) Abundance of dung-associated beetles on carrion in anthropogenic affected habitats (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea). Chemoökologentreffen, Ulm, Germany (Talk)
 
Weithmann S, von Hoermann C, Steiger S, Ayasse M (2017) Effects of forest habitat structure and management intensity on the diversity of carrion visiting silphid beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae). 14th Assembly of the Biodiversity Exploratories, Wernigerode, Germany (Poster)

Contact

M.Sc. Sandra Weithmann
Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics
University of Ulm
Helmholtzstraße 10-1 Containerstadt
D-89081 Ulm, Germany
Tel. +49 (0)731 50 22691
Fax +49 (0)731 50 22683