Under normal circumstances, insects such as blow flies will oviposit and larvae will colonize a carcass as soon as possible. However, insect colonization on a carcass may be delayed due to the effects of wrapping, shallow burial, addition of lime derivatives to mitigate scavenging and odor, or extreme weather. The impacts of delayed insect colonization on carcass decomposition and its subsequent effect on soil chemistry profiles have not been examined to date. The objectives of this study were to determine soil chemistry dynamics associated with porcine carcasses experiencing delayed insect colonization for 7-day or 14-day. Soil chemistry profiles such as ammonium-N (NH4 -N), orthophosphate-P (PO4 -P), and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) were significantly different among treatments: insect inclusion (immediate access of blow fly colonization on porcine carcasses), 7-day insect exclusion and 14-day insect exclusion (blow fly access was delayed up to 7-day and 14-day). Furthermore, significant differences of soil chemical profiles were detected between days of decomposition and soil regions. Soil moisture, NH4 -N, PO4 -P, and DOC were significantly higher when insects were excluded from the porcine carcass suggesting loss of tissue from larval feeding reduced the mass of nutrients entering the soil. This study provides useful information for forensic science in cases where insect colonization is delayed for a period of time postmortem and soil chemistry in the cadaver decomposition island is considered for estimating postmortem interval.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.