Insects As Indicators Of The Postmortem Interval

Decomposing remains provide a temporary microhabitat offering a progressively changing food source to a variety of organisms, ranging from bacteria and fungi to vertebrate scavengers. The arthropods constitute a major element of this fauna, with the insects as the predominant taxa in terrestrial environments worldwide, in terms of both numbers of individuals and species diversity. In North Carolina, for example, 522 species in three phyla were recovered from decomposing pig carcasses, and of these, 84% were insects. In the Hawaiian Islands, 133 different kinds of arthropods were collected from pig and cat carcasses and of these, 83% were insects. There have been numerous decomposition studies conducted worldwide using different animal models, ranging from lizards and toads to elephants. There has been considerable variation in the numbers of different taxa recovered. These differences may be related to both geographic variation and differences in the animal models used.

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