Future Research

A key opportunity is the development of sexton beetles (Silphidae), in particular the genera Silpha and Thanatophilus. These genera are widespread, but none of the species are cosmopolitan (Schawaller 1981; Peck 2001). Because of this, development models must be created for each species. By generating models for more of these species, accurate predictions of extended PMImns will be possible over a larger geographic area. In addition to this, PMImns estimated using these species can crossvali-date estimates made using dipteran larvae, as it is preferable to use as much data as possible to predict a PMImn. The same is true for Aleochara (Staphylinidae), as none of the species in the genus are cosmopolitan. Such studies should sample according to published standards to produce robust developmental models (Ikemoto and Takai 2001; Richards and Villet 2008).

While the generation of development models should be prioritized to increase the utility of Coleoptera in forensic entomology, community composition studies are also important. It is vital that forensic entomologists adjust PMImin estimates to correct for factors that affect insect development. To understand the effects on development of different species, the biology of these species must be understood (Anderson 2001). Important beetles for community analysis will differ from region to region, but in general the most important families will be the Silphidae, Staphylinidae, Trogidae, Dermestidae and Histeridae (Braack 1986). These families contain several necrophilous or necrophagous species and an understanding of the factors that influence their use of corpses and interactions with each other will allow better understanding of the carcass community during the advanced stages of decay.

Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank Terence Bellingan and Kendall Crous for assistance with laboratory work. Rhodes University funded the work.

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