Entomology, Department of


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Master of Science Degree Project, Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2022.


Copyright © 2022 Tess A Peterson


Community composition and successional information about insect communities on carrion have value in forensic entomology. Local scale data is essential for providing accurate inferences about the timing and conditions of a death based on insect presence. Insects (primarily Diptera) were collected from beef liver in the month of June, 2021, at mixed hardwood and wetland sites in Houghton County, Michigan for the purpose of establishing preliminary information on insect communities present on carrion in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Key dipteran groups were Calliphorids from the genera Calliphora, Lucilia, and Phormia (Diptera: Calliphoridae), which were present at high proportions in both habitats. Muscidae was the most diverse family of dipterans represented, present in low numbers throughout both habitat types. The hardwood habitat supported a significantly larger abundance of insects than the wetland habitat. Key forensically important beetles at the hardwood site were Nicrophorus and Necrophilus spp, while the wetland habitat support Onthophagus beetles. High variances in abundance and diversity between habitat types and between different plots within the same habitat suggests that habitat fragmentation and microclimate heavily influence the saprophagous insect community. Errors and limitations of the survey are discussed which highlight the need for further research on the ecological factors that drive insect community composition in small-scale habitats.

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