Field succession studies and casework can help to identify forensically useful Diptera

Publication Name

Journal of Forensic Sciences


Fly development rates, and to a lesser extent succession data, can be used to provide an estimate of a minimum postmortem interval (mPMI). Yet, these data are most useful when a full account of species’ ecology, seasonality, and distribution is known. We conducted succession experiments on human cadavers over different seasons near Sydney, Australia, to document forensically useful information, including the pre-appearance interval for carrion flies. We also compiled a detailed record of flies identified in casework collected in 156 cases distributed across New South Wales, Australia. We then compared the occurrence of fly species from both field and casework datasets to identify any consistencies or gaps to determine how useful species might be for forensic investigations. In the field experiments, we found differences in species diversity and abundance between seasons, as well as yearly variation between two winter seasons. Most fly species we recorded ovipositing showed a 2- or 3-day delay between adult arrival and oviposition in summer, with a longer delay in winter. Species that were previously encountered in casework, such as Calliphora augur (Fabricius, 1775) and Calliphora ochracea Schiner, 1868, were confirmed as forensically useful, with their colonization behavior and seasonal preferences documented here. Although not encountered in casework, we confirmed Hemipyrellia fergusoni Patton, 1925 as a primary colonizer of human cadavers. Our study emphasizes the need to link field and casework data for a complete understanding of all aspects of a carrion fly's ecology to assist forensic investigators in mPMI estimations.

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Australian Research Council



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