Entomofaunal Succession Patterns on Burnt and Unburnt Rabbit Carrion

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2016
Authors:A. M. A. Mashali
Journal:Journal of Medical Entomology
Date Published:2015/12/15
Keywords:burnt, decomposition, forensic entomology, insect succession

The influence of burning on the decomposition of rabbit carcasses and on insect succession was investigated in three different habitats (agricultural, desert, and urban) in order to provide data for estimating the postmortem interval (PMI). Each site had six carcasses divided into two groups of three rabbits, with the carcasses in one group being partially burned, while the others were not burned. Carrion reached the dry stage within 5 d in the desert and urban habitats and 13 d in the agricultural habitat. The unburnt and burnt carcasses also decomposed at a similar rate in the three study habitats. Adult dipteran and coleopteran insects were collected daily. A total of 24 species and 2,381 specimens were collected; of these, 732 specimens from 21 species were taken from the partially burnt carcasses and 1,649 specimens from 21 species from the unburnt carcasses. There were significantly distinct insect communities between the agricultural habitat and the desert and urban habitats. There were also significant differences in the insect communities between the decay stage and other stages, with fresh and dry stages recording the lowest number of insects. There were some species which only presented themselves during the decay stage of decomposition, namely, Platypalpus sp., Desmometopa varipalpis Malloch, Atherigona orientalis (Schiner), Atherigona yorki Deeming, Musca sorbens Weidemann, and Onthophagus nitidulus Klug. In addition, there were significant distinctions in the insect communities between unburnt carcasses and burnt carcasses. The presence of these distinctions means that it is possible to estimate the PMI from partially burnt rabbit carcasses.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith