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Insect succession patterns on decomposing swine carcasses in Tasmania: A summer study

Fong, Tracy (2017) Insect succession patterns on decomposing swine carcasses in Tasmania: A summer study. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Forensic entomology is the study of insects and arthropods associated with legal investigations. Forensic entomology methods have been used worldwide to deal with several different criminal matters, but in particular to assist in determining a more accurate time since death of humans and animals. Soon after the death event, the odour of the body attracts various insect species to the carcass. These organisms will reach the dead body in a predictable sequential arrival pattern which allows the identification of the insects associated to the stage of decomposition to become invaluable information during legal investigations.

Insect succession patterns have been studied largely around the world by using the predictable sequential arrival pattern of different insect species that become attracted to the decomposing carcass at various stages of the decay. The species composition in different parts of the world can be distinctive to that region or overlap across a vast area. Many factors can affect the rate of decomposition of the carcass and therefore affecting the pattern of insect succession.

Currently, in some countries there are insufficient studies detailing the seasonal variation of insect succession patterns on decomposing remains. To date, there have been no published studies detailing insect succession patterns on decomposing remains in the Tasmania. This data is essential as it can become invaluable during legal investigations, as it can be used in conjunction with existing methods to assist in determining the time since death.

The present research represents the first insect succession pattern research to be undertaken in Tasmania investigating the insect succession patterns on decomposing swine carcasses in two contrasting location sites in Tasmania, agricultural and suburban, during one summer season. This research aimed to provide a preliminary database, detailing forensically important insects on decomposing carcasses within the Tasmania geographical region during the warm season. The degree of consistency in insect succession and insect succession waves were investigated over a 39-day study during one summer season.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Magni, Paola
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