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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • forensic entomology;
  • decomposition;
  • arthropod succession;
  • Whitehorse;
  • northern environment

Abstract

Forensic arthropod succession patterns are known to vary between regions. However, the northern habitats of the globe have been largely left unstudied. Three pig carcasses were studied outdoors in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Adult and immature insects were collected for identification and comparison. The dominant Diptera and Coleoptera species at all carcasses were Protophormia terraneovae (R-D) (Fam: Calliphoridae) and Thanatophilus lapponicus (Herbst) (Fam: Silphidae), respectively. Rate of decomposition, patterns of Diptera and Coleoptera succession, and species dominance were shown to differ from previous studies in temperate regions, particularly as P. terraenovae showed complete dominance among blowfly species. Rate of decomposition through the first four stages was generally slow, and the last stage of decomposition was not observed at any carcass due to time constraints. It is concluded that biogeoclimatic range has a significant effect on insect presence and rate of decomposition, making it an important factor to consider when calculating a postmortem interval.