JOURNAL ARTICLE
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The quality of developmental reference data in forensic entomology: Detrimental effects of multiple, in vivo measurements in Creophilus maxillosus L. (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).

Although in vivo measurements of larval insects are often performed during developmental studies of necrophilous beetles, their impact on development has not been studied. During measurements insects are taken out of the incubator for a few minutes at room temperature, which may affect the development and eventually the quality of the developmental reference data. Additionally, while being measured larvae are under stress which may have an effect on their development. We conducted an experiment using predatory beetle species Creophilus maxillosus L. (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) which often occurs and breeds on large vertebrate carcasses. We tested the hypothesis that multiple, in vivo measurements affect the development of C. maxillosus by increasing its duration and changing adult insect size at emergence. As a consequence, we predicted that the multiple insect measurement protocol will affect the accuracy of age estimates using the resultant reference developmental data. Development of C. maxillosus was studied at 7 constant temperatures. All individuals were inspected for developmental landmarks; half of them were also repeatedly measured and weighed. Measured beetles developed longer than non-measured beetles (e.g. 1.59 days longer at 22.5 °C) and at emergence were distinctly smaller (e.g. 1.5 mm shorter and 22 mg lighter at 22.5 °C). The accuracy of age estimates was greater while using the model for non-measured beetles. These results support the claim that multiple in vivo measurements of insects reduce the quality of resultant developmental data. The measurements were particularly detrimental for the adult insect size. Consequently, particular attention should be paid to isomegalen diagrams which are based on insect length. Our findings indicate that these diagrams, when based on multiple, in vivo measurements of larval beetles, will systematically overestimate their age.

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