Succession pasterns of arachnids on decomposing vertebrate tissues and their forensic significance

Monday, November 17, 2014: 9:12 AM
F149 (Oregon Convention Center)
Laurie Casebier , Entomology, University of California, Davis, CA
Forensic entomology is increasingly used for solving complicated cases involving decedents. The forensic significance of carrion specialist insect species, such as Dipterans, is well documented, however there are many other arthropods including spiders, mites and other arachnids that are recorded at decedents buts whose significance has not been determined. We will be measuring arachnid activity on pig carcasses, to see if the species diversity and abundance changes over time. This could have forensically significant applications such as a more accurate postmortem interval estimation. My hypothesis is that a significant number of spiders will be collected near the remains than near my controls. My theory is that some species of spiders are attracted to carrion as a prey-rich environment and actively seek it out instead stumbling upon it incidentally. Our goal is to add to the growing base of knowledge about the carrion attending species of arachnids in California, and augment our understanding of arthropod succession and time of death regarding a decedent. The possibility exists that certain species have forensic significance such that their presence should be recorded by forensic examiners working a case.