The soil environment and forensic entomology

Publisher:
CRC Press
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
Forensic Entomology: The Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigations, 2009, 2, pp. 407 - 426
Issue Date:
2009-01
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Cadaver decomposition involves complex chemical processes that are readily influenced by surrounding conditions. A body decomposing in an outdoor environment will be affected by ecological conditions such as climate, vegetation, and the soil environment. The soil environment is particularly important, as the process of decomposition can be altered considerably by soil type, pH, moisture, and oxygen content. The type of soil environment will also affect the invertebrate fauna associated with decomposition. As a result, the rate of decomposition will vary for a body decomposing on the soil surface compared to a body decomposing in a burial environment. It is therefore important to consider the effect of the soil environment on entomological evidence collected as part of a forensic investigation. This review will discuss the chemical processes of decomposition and preservation, as well as the effect of the soil environment, and subsequently the insect fauna, on these processes. A better understanding of these processes is imperative in the application of forensic entomology.
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