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Decomposition of hanging pig carcasses in a forest habitat of Poland

Jarmusz, Mateusz, Bajerlein, Daria
Forensic science international 2019 v.300 pp. 32-42
Calliphoridae, autumn, biodegradation, dead animals, forensic entomology, head, larvae, pig carcasses, seasonal variation, spring, summer, swine, Poland
We present the results of the first study on the decomposition of hanging carcasses in a forest habitat of Poland. The decomposition of 12 hanging pigs and 12 ground pigs, which were used as control, in spring, summer, and autumn was examined during a two-year study. Mosaic decomposition was observed with bloating, active decay, and advanced decay irrespective of the carrion treatment (hanging vs ground). Bloating was less visible or did not occur at all in hanging pigs. After undergoing advanced decay, carcasses became mummified and remained in the hanging position. Complete skeletonization was observed only within the head in one case in summer. Irrespective of the carrion treatment, the active decay was driven by the same blow fly species with a similar seasonal pattern of larval dominance. The season was found to affect the decomposition of the hanging carcasses as revealed by a distinct delay in the onset of bloating in autumn and the late onset of active decay in spring. The duration of active decay was the shortest in summer and the longest in autumn. The effect of carrion treatment on the rate of decomposition was statistically insignificant. Nevertheless, some differences in the duration of decomposition between hanging and ground pigs were observed. The most distinct difference was that earlier decomposition proceeded faster in hanging pigs in spring and a delayed decomposition was observed in autumn. In summer, decomposition was similar in all the carcasses. The presented results are largely in contrast to the findings of previous studies on decomposition of hanging pig carrion.