Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Underwater Insects Tell The Tale -- Aquatic Invertebrates Provide Clues About The Case History Of Submerged 'Bodies'

Date:
October 23, 1997
Source:
Simon Fraser University
Summary:
Niki Macdonnell says the eight rotting pig carcasses she'll pull from streams and lakes in local forests next month hold important clues about deaths that occur in freshwater.

NIKI MACDONELL SAYS the eight rotting pig carcasses she'll pull from streams and lakes in local forests next month hold important clues about deaths that occur in freshwater.

For the past year, the Simon Fraser University graduate student in pest management has made routine visits to the clothed and submerged 'bodies' to study the life cycles of insects that colonize on them - everything from aquatic bugs to earthworms and even clams.

Insects may be able to tell how long a body has been at a certain location, and whether it has been moved -vital information in determining the circumstances surrounding water-related deaths.

With virtually no research in the field to draw on, Macdonell says pathologists are "basically taking an educated guess" when they estimate time of death in such cases.

Macdonell examined 200 cases of freshwater deaths in B.C. in 1995/96, and now wants to see if what happens to the pigs is what happens to humans.

"I'm trying to find out whether we can use some of these invertebrates to indicate a time line in deaths," says Macdonell. "It doesn't appear we'll be as accurate with these invertebrates as with those occuring on land. So little research exists that anything we learn will help."

Macdonell identified more than 50 species of invertebrates and is now piecing together their activity patterns. She's found that populations are different between streams and lakes, for example, so determining where death occurred, if it's in question, is possible.

Some aquatic insects are unpredictable, while others appear to be seasonal. "Unlike terrestrial insects, they may have other reasons for attaching themselves to bodies," adds Macdonell. "Bodies are a nutrient-rich source, but their decomposition and shape also make for great habitat."

Macdonell, who wants to be a coroner, says the research will be useful, given the high number of water-related deaths in B.C. It's also groundbreaking. The first study of a body decomposing underwater took place in Tennessee only three years ago. No research has been done in Canada. In fact, Macdonell planned to remove her pigs months ago, figuring they would have decomposed by then. "We're still learning about this process in underwater situations," she says.

Fascinated by forensic research as an undergraduate, Macdonell connected with SFU forensic entomologist Gail Anderson through the Internet. Anderson, who studies insect life cycles on murder victims' bodies, is well-known for assisting with local murder investigations. Her research includes studies of insects on clothed pig carcasses which have been buried or partially buried.

Macdonell is also helping Anderson teach a course in forensic science, offered by the school of criminology. It's proving there are many who share Macdonell's fascination - the class has 85 students and a waiting list.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Simon Fraser University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Simon Fraser University. "Underwater Insects Tell The Tale -- Aquatic Invertebrates Provide Clues About The Case History Of Submerged 'Bodies'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/10/971023065618.htm>.
Simon Fraser University. (1997, October 23). Underwater Insects Tell The Tale -- Aquatic Invertebrates Provide Clues About The Case History Of Submerged 'Bodies'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/10/971023065618.htm
Simon Fraser University. "Underwater Insects Tell The Tale -- Aquatic Invertebrates Provide Clues About The Case History Of Submerged 'Bodies'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/10/971023065618.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins