Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Department

Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Keiper, Joseph

Subject Headings

Insects -- Locomotion -- Ohio, Blowflies -- Behavior -- Ohio, Beetles -- Behavior -- Ohio, Blow flies, decomposition, forensic

Abstract

The distribution of insects geographically may provide evidence that indicates the movement of human remains from one location to another. The aims of this study were: (1) to observe insect succession in an urban and rural area in northeastern Ohio to document differences in the entomofaunal succession, and (2) to determine if there is an insect signature associated with a body moved from an urban to a rural area. It was hypothesized that there would be a difference in species composition between the urban and rural sites and the body moved would retain insect evidence indicating initial exposure to an urban insect community. The insect signature of a moved corpse should differ from that of the urban and rural corpses. Six 12-19 kg domestic pig carcasses were obtained and placed in the following locations: two in a rural area of Cuyahoga County, and four in an urban area on Cleveland State University campus. After 24 hours, two of the carcasses from the urban location were moved to the rural location. Each carcass was sampled by hand sorting, aerial sweep netting and pitfall traps from 16 June 2009 to 1 August 2009. Most of the specimens were collected within the first four weeks of the study and included both adult and larval samples. All three carcass types supported a similar array of blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and beetles (Coleoptera). The dominant calliphorid, Phormia regina, represented approximately 66 of all specimens collected and was similarly represented on all carcass types. Although there were a few species unique to the urban or rural treatments, statistically there was no significant difference in insect composition between the treatments. Our analysis revealed that although species dominance and presence/absence of taxa may not indicate body movement in northeast Ohio, it does provide a database of forensically important insects which may be useful in future investigations

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