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Regional and Micro-Environmental Taphonomic Variation and Decomposition in Northern New England

NCJ Number
Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Volume: 19 Dated: 2013 Pages: 463
Date Published
1 page

Using an experimental pig cadaver outdoor case series that excluded mammalian and avian scavengers, this study found that both regional factors, such as seasonal temperature fluctuation, and microenvironmental site differences impacted the rate and character of decomposition. 


Two pig cadavers were placed in cages that measured 1.8 x 2.4 m, which allowed insect access, but excluded most mammalian or avian scavengers. The pig cadavers were placed on the same day in late fall on the day of their deaths. Wildlife cameras were placed within the cages to capture photographs of the cadavers in 15-minute intervals. A weather station that recorded hourly temperature and humidity data was also placed next to the cages. The cages were placed about 30 m apart. Each pig was placed in a unique microenvironment; one was placed in an open, grassy meadow; and the other under an evergreen canopy with a pine-needle forest floor. These are typical sites for forensic cases in northern New England. The current report focuses on the time period from placement on November 3, with a subsequent snowy winter, extending to June 30. Complete skeletonization occurred during this time frame. Observations of these two microenvironments showed that year-round forest canopy significantly impacted the rate of decomposition. 2 references 

Date Published: January 1, 2013