Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research, 18, (Spring 2008):33-38 © 2008 Copyright by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


The relationship between carrion and blow flies is well understood, but in situations where fresh carrion sources are unavailable, as may occur on the Great Plains, the potential for multigenerational colonization of a single carcass exists. By testing this possibility through a replicated choice/no-choice experiment using pig carcasses, we were able to demonstrate that multigenerational colonization of carrion by blow flies does not occur. Fresh pig carcasses were exposed to blow fly infestation, then placed in insect exclusion cages. After the emergence of this first generation of blow fly adults, "choice" cages were supplied with a fresh pig cadaver. No multigenerational colonization ofthe parent carcass took place in any of the choice or no-choice replicates. This demonstrates that carcasses act as temporary resource islands, with a "window of opportunity" of colonization in the ecosystem, and are vital for the biodiversity of the Great Plains.