Advertisement

An empirical comparison of decomposition and fly colonisation of concealed carcasses in the Old and New World

  • Lena LutzEmail author
  • Gaétan Moreau
  • Sarah Czuprynski
  • Victoria Bernhardt
  • Jens Amendt
Original Article

Abstract

The level of exposure or concealment of a cadaver is known to have an important impact on insect colonisation and decomposition but has been the subject of few investigations. In the present study, 30 pig carcasses were stored in three different types of containers (suitcases, trashcans and drums) with different levels of access for necrophagous insects at two different geographic locations for 100 days. The decomposition proceeded in a similar way in both geographic locations in all three types of container. Both in trashcans and suitcases, the decomposition process was characterised by bones and greasy, brown decomposition fluids left in the containers and an overall moist decomposition. In contrast, decomposition in the drums was characterised by a long bloating phase followed by a slow transition from bloated to deflation. Tissue and the carcasses as a whole were still present till the end of the experiment. Insect occurrence patterns and species composition on suitcases and trashcans were similar for both countries. Mainly flies and some beetles were present in suitcases and trashcans until day 45, with blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) dominating the fauna. There was no insect colonisation in the drums. Our study contributes to the knowledge about insect accessibility of concealed cadavers and the impact of concealment on the speed and type of decomposition. It clearly shows that the degree of exposure of a cadaver is a key factor in decomposition and insect colonisation, which had a larger effect here than the biogeographical location.

Keywords

Decomposition Container Cryptoclimate Total body score Germany Canada 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank V. Schöler, P. Trageser, N. Söhn, M. Hartmann, F. Gandiaga, S. Lamarre, M.-S. Morneau, A. Mourant and M. Thibault for their assistance during fieldwork and J.-P. Privé and T. Van Der Brand for their valuable contribution. Additionally, we would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for commenting on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Funding information

Financial supports were given by Discovery NSERC to G. Moreau in Canada and by Stiftung Forensisches Forum in Germany.

Supplementary material

414_2019_2089_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 15 kb)

References

  1. 1.
    Cockle DL, Bell LS (2015) Human decomposition and the reliability of a “universal” model for post mortem interval estimations. Forensic Sci Int 253:136.e1–136.e9.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.05.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gelderman HT, Boer L, Naujocks T, IJzermans ACM, Duijst WLJM (2017) The development of a post-mortem interval estimation for human remains found on land in the Netherlands. Int J Legal Med 132:863–873.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-017-1700-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Michaud JP, Moreau G (2011) A statistical approach based on accumulated degree-days to predict decomposition-related processes in forensic studies. J Forensic Sci 56:229–232.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01559.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cockle DL, Bell LS (2017) The environmental variables that impact human decomposition in terrestrially exposed contexts within Canada. Sci Justice 57:107–117.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2016.11.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mann RW, Bass WM, Meadows L (1990) Time since death and decomposition of the human body: variables and observations in case and experimental field studies. J Forensic Sci 35:103–111.  https://doi.org/10.1520/JFS12806J Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sharanowski BJ, Walker EG, Anderson GS (2008) Insect succession and decomposition patterns on shaded and sunlit carrion in Saskatchewan in three different seasons. Forensic Sci Int 179:219–240.  https://doi.org/10.1016/J.FORSCIINT.2008.05.019 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Reh H, Haarhoff K, Vogt CD (1977) Die Schätzung der Todeszeit bei Wasserleichen. Z Rechtsmed 79:261–266.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00201166 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Madea B, Doberentz E (2010) Commentary on: Heaton V, Lagden A, Moffatt C, Simmons T. Predicting the postmortem submersion interval for human remains recovered from U.K. waterways. J Forensic Sci 2010;55(2):302-7. J Forensic Sci 55:1666–1667.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01517.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cross P, Simmons T (2010) The influence of penetrative trauma on the rate of decomposition. J Forensic Sci 55:295–301.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01277.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sutherland A, Myburgh J, Steyn M, Becker PJJ (2013) The effect of body size on the rate of decomposition in a temperate region of South Africa. Forensic Sci Int 231:257–262.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.05.035 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Matuszewski S, Konwerski S, Frątczak K, Szafałowicz M (2014) Effect of body mass and clothing on decomposition of pig carcasses. Int J Legal Med 128:1039–1048.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-014-0965-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Vass AA (2011) The elusive universal post-mortem interval formula. Forensic Sci Int 204:34–40.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.04.052 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pietro CC, Di Vella G (2001) Factors affecting descomposition Diptera colonization. Forensic Sci Int Genet Suppl Ser 120:18–27Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Michaud JP, Moreau G (2017) Facilitation may not be an adequate mechanism of community succession on carrion. Oecologia 183:1143–1153.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-017-3818-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Amendt J, Krettek R, Zehner R (2004) Forensic entomology. Naturwissenschaften 91:51–65.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-003-0493-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Madra A, Fratczak K, Grzywacz A, Matuszewski S (2015) Long-term study of pig carrion entomofauna. Forensic Sci Int 252:1–10.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.04.013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Payne JA (1965) A summer carrion study of the baby pig Sus Scrofa Linnaeus. Ecology 46:592–602.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1934999 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Matuszewski S, Bajerlein D, Konwerski S, Szpila K (2010) Insect succession and carrion decomposition in selected forests of Central Europe. Part 1: pattern and rate of decomposition. Forensic Sci Int 194:85–93.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.10.016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pastula EC, Merritt RW (2013) Insect arrival pattern and succession on buried carrion in Michigan. J Med Entomol 50:432–439.  https://doi.org/10.1603/ME12138 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kelly JA, Van Der Linde TC, Anderson GS (2009) The influence of clothing and wrapping on carcass decomposition and arthropod succession during the warmer seasons in Central South Africa. J Forensic Sci 54:1105–1112.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01113.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gunn A, Bird J (2011) The ability of the blowflies Calliphora vomitoria (Linnaeus), Calliphora vicina (Rob-Desvoidy) and Lucilia sericata (Meigen) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and the muscid flies Muscina stabulans (Fallén) and Muscina prolapsa (Harris) (Diptera: Muscidae) to colo. Forensic Sci Int 207:198–204.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.10.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Szpila K, Voss JG, Pape T (2010) A new dipteran forensic indicator in buried bodies. Med Vet Entomol 24:278–283.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2915.2010.00883.x Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kelly JA, Van Der Linde TC, Anderson GS (2008) The influence of clothing and wrapping on carcass decomposition and arthropod succession: a winter study in Central South Africa. Can Soc Forensic Sci J 41:135–147.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00085030.2008.10757171 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Goff ML (1992) Problems in estimation of postmortem interval resulting from wrapping of the corpse: a case study from Hawaii. J Agric Entomol 9:237–243Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Voss SC, Forbes SL, Dadour IR (2008) Decomposition and insect succession on cadavers inside a vehicle environment. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 4:22–32.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12024-007-0028-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Bhadra P, Hart AJ, Hall MJR (2014) Factors affecting accessibility to blowflies of bodies disposed in suitcases. Forensic Sci Int 239:62–72.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.03.020 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Bourel B, Tournel G, Hédouin V, Gosset D (2004) Entomofauna of buried bodies in northern France. Int J Legal Med 118:215–220.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-004-0449-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Mariani R, García-Mancuso R, Varela GL, Inda AM (2014) Entomofauna of a buried body: study of the exhumation of a human cadaver in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Forensic Sci Int 237:19–26.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.12.029 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Charabidze D, Hedouin V, Gosset D, De Meyer M (2015) An experimental investigation into the colonization of concealed cadavers by necrophagous blowflies. J Insect Sci 15:1–7.  https://doi.org/10.1093/jisesa/iev129 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Spivak M, Conlon D, Bell WJ (1991) Wind-guided landing and search behavior in fleshflies and blowflies exploiting a resource patch (Diptera: Sarcophagidae, Calliphoridae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 84:447–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ashworth JR, Wall R (1994) Responses of the sheep blowflies Lucilia sericata and L. cuprina to odour and the development of semiochemical baits. Med Vet Entomol 8:303–309.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2915.1994.tb00093.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Michaud JP, Moreau G (2009) Predicting the visitation of carcasses by carrion-related insects under different rates of degree-day accumulation. Forensic Sci Int 185:78–83.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2008.12.015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Lutz L, Verhoff MA, Amendt J (2018) Environmental factors influencing flight activity of forensically important female blow flies in Central Europe. Int J Legal Med.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-018-1967-5
  34. 34.
    Lutz L, Amendt J, Moreau G (2018) Carcass concealment alters assemblages and reproduction of forensically important beetles. Forensic Sci Int 291:124–132.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.08.014 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Comstock JL, Desaulniers J-P, LeBlanc HN, Forbes SL (2015) New decomposition stages to describe scenarios involving the partial and complete exclusion of insects. Can Soc Forensic Sci J 48:1–19.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00085030.2014.929850 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Keough N, Myburgh J, Steyn M (2017) Scoring of decomposition: a proposed amendment to the method when using a pig model for human studies. J Forensic Sci 62:986–993.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.13390 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Anderson GS (2011) Comparison of decomposition rates and faunal colonization of carrion in indoor and outdoor environments. J Forensic Sci 56:136–142.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01539.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Moffatt C, Simmons T, Lynch-Aird J (2016) An improved equation for TBS and ADD: establishing a reliable postmortem interval framework for casework and experimental studies. J Forensic Sci 61:S201–S207.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.12931 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Core Team R (2017) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. In: R Foundation for statistical computing. Austria. URL, Vienna https://www.R-project.org/ Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Szpila K (2010) Key for the identification of third instars of European blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) of forensic importance. In: Current concepts in forensic entomology. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, pp 43–56Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Szpila K (2012) Key for identification of European and Mediterranean blowflies (Diptera, Calliphoridae) of forensic importance third instars. Forensic Entomol An Introd 77–81.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9684-6
  42. 42.
    Marshall SA, Whitworth T, Roscoe L (2011) Blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) of eastern Canada with a key to Calliphoridae subfamilies and genera of eastern North America, and a key to the eastern Canadian species of Calliphorinae, Luciliinae and Chrysomyiinae. Can J Arthropod.  https://doi.org/10.3752/cjai.2011.11
  43. 43.
    Haglund WD, Sorg MH (2002) Advances in forensic taphonomy: method, theory, and archaeological perspectives. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Battán Horenstein M, Linhares AX (2011) Seasonal composition and temporal succession of necrophagous and predator beetles on pig carrion in central Argentina. Med Vet Entomol 25:395–401.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2915.2011.00969.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Olakanye AO, Nelson A, Ralebitso-Senior TK (2017) A comparative in situ decomposition study using still born piglets and leaf litter from a deciduous forest. Forensic Sci Int 276:85–92.  https://doi.org/10.1016/J.FORSCIINT.2017.04.024 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Simmons T, Adlam RE, Moffatt C (2010) Debugging decomposition data - comparative taphonomic studies and the influence of insects and carcass size on decomposition rate. J Forensic Sci 55:8–13.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01206.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Adlam RE, Simmons T (2007) The effect of repeated physical disturbance on soft tissue decomposition - are taphonomic studies an accurate reflection of decomposition? J Forensic Sci 52:1007–1014.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2007.00510.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Moreau G, Lutz L, Amendt J (2019) Honey, can you take out the garbage can? modeling weather data for cadavers found within containers. Pure Appl Geophys.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00024-019-02105-7

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Legal Medicine, University Hospital Frankfurt am MainGoethe-UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany
  2. 2.Département de BiologieUniversité de MonctonMonctonCanada

Personalised recommendations