Author(s): Tantawi TI, eLKady EM, Greenberg B, elGhaffar HA, Tantawi TI, eLKady EM, Greenberg B, elGhaffar HA
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Abstract In 1988 and 1989, seasonal field studies on exposed rabbit carcasses were conducted in Alexandria, Egypt, to describe the decomposition process and arthropod succession patterns. Four decomposition stages were recognized: fresh, bloated, decay, and dry. Carcasses in summer and spring decayed at a much faster rate than those in fall and winter. The bloated stage in summer lasted longer than in spring because of the difference in breeding biology of the primary flies infesting carcasses in these seasons. Dipterous larvae of the family Calliphoridae, and to a lesser extent of the families Sarcophagidae and Muscidae, were responsible for the process of carrion degradation. Carrion-arthropod communities in cooler seasons were distinguished from those in warmer seasons by the presence of certain dipterous (muscids and fanniids) and coleopterous larvae, and by adults of small flies such as sphaerocerids and scatopsids. The presence of adult psychodids, sciarids, and phorids was unique to the winter carrion-arthropod community. Eleven species of carrion-breeding Diptera were found to coexist in the study site. The coexistence of the 2 calliphorids Chrysomya albiceps (Wiedemann) and Lucilia sericata (Meigen) in carrion in fall and spring is a new record for the Palaearctic Region. In spring, 3rd instars of C. albiceps were observed preying on the pupae of their own species. Although the carcasses were of equal size and simultaneously exposed, there was considerable variation in the rate of decay among fall carcasses only, which was attributed to unknown reasons at the beginning of the experiment and to heavy rains later on. This affected oviposition and the feeding period of maggots. Approximately 100 arthropod species were recovered on carcasses throughout the study. Diptera was the predominant group, whereas Coleoptera ranked 2nd. Carcasses in cooler seasons were richer in species than in warmer seasons.
This article was published in J Med Entomol
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research