Monday, 18 November 2002 - 3:00 PM

This presentation is part of : Student Competition Ten-Minute Papers, Section D. Medical and Veterinary Entomology

Succession and population dynamics of carrion arthropods in Blacksburg, VA

K. Lane Tabor, Carlyle C. Brewster, and R.D. Fell. Virginia Tech, Department of Entomology, 216 Price Hall, Blacksburg, VA

Medicolegal forensic entomology deals with the utilization of insects and other arthropods in solving criminal or unexplained death, with a major goal of determining the postmortem interval (PMI). Insects can provide an alternative means of estimating the PMI in cases when other methods are no longer accurate. Insects are used in two complementary ways to estimate PMI. First, the PMI can be estimated by comparing known developmental information of early-arrival species to the development of these species under the weather conditions preceding the discovery of the corpse. Second, succession data can indicate how long a victim has been dead because insects invade a corpse shortly after death in a manner that is predictable and specific to the environment in which it is found. The composition of taxa found on a corpse at the time of discovery (corpse fauna) can be compared to the composition of insects at a given period of time derived from controlled studies (baseline fauna) to estimate PMI. Studies were conducted on successional fauna using pig carcasses in the spring and summer of 2001 and 2002 in Southwest Virginia. Comparisons were made between the patterns of succession in each period, including succession patterns derived from a pilot study on alcohol-dosed pigs. These data were used to develop occurrence matrices which were analyzed using Jaccard Similarity Coefficient analysis. Metrics of the temporal changes in taxonomic composition of carrion arthropods for the Blacksburg area were derived from these analyses.

Species 1: Diptera Calliphoridae Phormia regina (black blow fly)
Keywords: Forensic entomology, succession

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