Volume 47, Issue 1 (January 2002)
Time of Submergence Using Aquatic Invertebrate Succession and Decompositional Changes
Pig carcasses were placed in pond and stream habitats in the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest in Maple Ridge, B.C. for approximately one year, to examine the development, species, and sequence of invertebrates associated with the carrion. An invertebrate successional database was created for pond and stream habitats for potential use in estimating time of submergence in water related death investigations. Analysis has shown that a predictable succession of invertebrates colonize the carrion. However, whether or not this succession is carrion dependent or seasonal is unknown. There is a difference in the species composition between pond and stream habitats. Habitats influence invertebrate fauna, therefore, species colonizing carrion are habitat-specific. In both habitats, no one organism can determine time of submergence alone. Decompositional descriptions from this research were compared with 15 freshwater related death investigations. Similarities were seen in the earlier decompositional characteristics including bloat, discoloration, and nail shedding; however, the human descriptions were so vague that they had little value in determining time of submergence and hence time of death.