Annual and seasonal patterns of insect succession on decomposing remains at two locations in Western Australia

Sasha Voss, Helen Spafford, Ian Dadour

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    56 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This study considered annual, seasonal and shorter term variation in patterns of insect succession onto decomposing remains at two contrasting locations in Western Australia, bushland and agricultural. The degree of consistency in insect succession patterns over spatial and temporal scales was evaluated through multivariate analysis of occurrence-based distance matrices. Insect assemblages were strongly correlated between locations, within corresponding time periods, indicating that patterns of insect succession were similar between localised sites within the same broad geographic area. This suggests that there is reasonable scope for the application of baseline succession data generated at a single study site to a range of decomposition sites within a given region. Differences were largely due to species absences at the agricultural site. Three species of Coleoptera were identified as possible representatives of bushland habitat, Ptomaphila lacrymosa (Silphidae), Omorgus tatei (Trogidae) and Helea castor (Tenebrionidae), and may be indicative of post mortem movement between habitat types. Within locations, variation in insect assemblages was not significant between years. Within years, insect assemblages varied significantly over time on a seasonal time scale and as decomposition progressed through defined decomposition stages. Forensically relevant data detailing the seasonal pattern of insect succession onto decomposing remains for Western Australia are reported. Additional focus has been directed towards hymenopteran parasitoids that frequent decomposing remains and parasitise Diptera colonisers. Parasitoids can be used to provide an extended PMI timeframe in cases where traditional forensic indicators have completed their development.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)26-36
    JournalForensic Science International
    Volume193
    Issue number1-3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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