Effect of Carcass Size on Rate of Decomposition and Arthropod Succession Patterns

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1991 Sep;12(3):235-40. doi: 10.1097/00000433-199109000-00013.


Decomposition studies were conducted using two carcasses of domestic pigs, Sus scrofa L., 8.4 kg and 15.1 kg in weight, to determine the effects of carcass size on the rate of decomposition, composition of the arthropod fauna, and succession patterns. A total of 46 arthropod taxa were recovered during this study. No size-related differences were observed between carcasses with respect to composition of the arthropod fauna or patterns of succession. A greater number of arthropods were observed attracted to the 15.1-kg carcass, and the rate of decomposition observed was more rapid for the 15.1-kg carcass than for the 8.4-kg carcass. Internal temperatures of the 8.4-kg carcass were more directly related to external ambient temperatures during the fresh and bloated stages of decomposition. During the decay stage, both carcasses generated internal temperatures significantly above ambient temperatures. Following this stage, internal temperatures fell to approximate ambient temperatures during the postdecay and remains stages.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropods / physiology*
  • Body Constitution / physiology*
  • Postmortem Changes*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Swine
  • Temperature