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Preliminary Study on the Influence of Direct Sunlight and Shade on Carcasses' Decomposition and Arthropod Succession

NCJ Number
Thembisa Majola; Janine Kelly; Theuns van der Linde
Date Published
June 2013
10 pages
This study was conducted to determine the differences in rates of decomposition and the oviposition behavior of flies in three different outdoor environments in South Africa: shade, partial shade, and full sunlight.
A preliminary study was conducted to investigate the effect of direct sunlight and shade on carcass decomposition and arthropod succession in the central region of South Africa. Three pig carcasses (Sus scrofa) were used in this study and were placed in full sunlight, partially in the shade, and in fully shaded conditions. This research was done during the spring season of 2003, 23 September to 11 November. Internal carcass temperatures, as well as environmental temperatures, were recorded daily and the decomposition rates were compared between direct sunlight versus the partially and fully shaded carcasses. The carcass placed in direct sunlight attracted more arthropods and the decomposition rate was faster compared to those carcasses placed in the shade. Chrysomya chloropyga and Lucilia spp. were the most dominant species on these carcasses. Dermestes maculatus De Geer (Coleoptera, Dermestidae), followed by Necrobia rufipes De Geer (Coleoptera, Cleridae), were present in high numbers during the active decay stage. This study illustrates that shade has an effect on physical decomposition stages. The preliminary results showed that shaded or partly shaded carcasses decompose slower than carcasses exposed to full sunlight. There was no effect on arthropod species succession or development, although the numbers of individuals varied. (Published Abstract)