Analysis of Decomposition Fluid Collected from Carcasses Decomposing in the Presence and Absence of Insects

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Soil in Criminal and Environmental Forensics. Soil Forensics, 2016, pp. 275 - 296
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Most decomposition studies investigate soft tissue degradation in the presence of insects, however several studies have shown that when insect activity is excluded from carcasses, the rate of decomposition slows down. The goal of this study was to explore the effect of insect activity on the chemical properties of decomposition fluid. Fluid was collected from pig (Sus scrofa) carcasses over the course of two summer trials (2011 and 2012) conducted in southern Ontario, Canada. The pH and conductivity were measured and fatty acids were analysed using Attenuated Total Reflectance- Infrared (ATR-IR) spectroscopy. Results were compared between insect inclusion, partial exclusion, and complete exclusion carcass groups. The results indicate that the presence of insects increases the pH and decreases the conductivity of decomposition fluid. Spectral fatty acid results did not appear to vary greatly between experimental groups. The overall levels were not sufficiently different between carcass groups to conclude that the presence of insects played an important role in the fatty acid degradation process.
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