Volume 45, Issue 4 (July 2000)
Decomposition Patterns in Terrestrial and Intertidal Habitats on Oahu Island and Coconut Island, Hawaii
Decomposition studies were conducted at two sites on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, to compare patterns of decomposition and arthropod invasion in intertidal and adjacent terrestrial habitats. The animal model used was the domestic pig. One site was on Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay on the northeast side of Oahu, and the second was conducted in an anchialine pool located at Barber's Point Naval Air Station on the southwest shore of Oahu. At both sites, the terrestrial animal decomposed in a manner similar to what has been observed in previous studies in terrestrial habitats on the island of Oahu. Rate of biomass depletion was slower in both intertidal studies, and decomposition was primarily due to tide and wave activity and bacterial decomposition. No permanent colonization of carcasses by insects was seen for the intertidal carcass at Coconut Island. At the anchialine pool at Barber's Point Naval Air Station, Diptera larvae were responsible for biomass removal until the carcass was reduced below the water line and, from that point on, bacterial action was the means of decomposition. Marine and terrestrial scavengers were present at both sites although their impact on decomposition was negligible. Five stages of decomposition were recognized for the intertidal sites: fresh, buoyant/floating, deterioration/disintegration, buoyant remains, and scattered skeletal.