Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Flies are commonly used as forensic indicators of an approximate time of death. This measurement of postmortem interval is influenced by factors such as climate and the environment in which the remains are placed. Each environment has its own set of influences that can accelerate or hinder the rate of decomposition. Remains left on dry land will decompose at a faster rate than remains in water due to the accessibility of the remains to scavengers and necrophagus insects. This research serves to provide a start to research into decomposition in the swamp environment of southern Louisiana. Three fetal pigs were placed on a dry land site and left to decompose at the same time as three, separate pigs in a nearby swamp site. Both sites were visited twice daily to collect necrophagus insects, examine decomposition rates, and note the influential factors present during each visit. Results indicate that remains left in a swamp environment decompose at a slower rate than remains on dry land. All remains decomposed completely within two weeks with dry land remains reaching full decomposition in shortly over a week. Scavengers were attracted to the swamp remains and, despite remains being placed in protective cages, were still able to consume part of the remains. Among the scavengers noted at the swamp site are turtles, crawfish, and fish. Flies attracted to the remains include the genus Lucilia, Phormia regina, and Cochliomyia. macellaria. With the exception of Coleoptera appearing only on the land site and Cochliomyia macellaria only in the swamp site, both sites have similar insect associations



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Manhein, Mary H.