The effect of nicotine on carrion feeding insects with considerations for use within forensic sciences

Chick, A., 2014. The effect of nicotine on carrion feeding insects with considerations for use within forensic sciences. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Abstract

The presence of invertebrates on decomposing animal matter has been used extensively by forensic entomologists to estimate time of death for over 100 years. The presence of toxins such as drugs and pesticides on carrion can affect the behaviour and life cycle of such invertebrates. The aim of this thesis was to examine the effects of nicotine upon the colonisation of carrion by invertebrates; nicotine was used because of its historical use as an insecticide and its ubiquitous use in society. The investigations aimed to examine these possible effects both in situ in field-based testing and ex situ in a controlled laboratory environment and to work towards an empirically testable correction factor for the estimation of Postmortem interval estimates in the presence of nicotine. The field-based testing was done using Sus domestica (Linnaeus) carrion with a solution of nicotine injected into the cadaveric throat of the animal. The carrion was protected from feeding and removal by vertebrate scavengers. It was found that nicotine affected the time taken for Diptera to colonise the carrion as well as affecting the behaviour of feeding. Diptera larvae showed avoidance of the nicotine treated throat sites on the carrion, which is the normal site of oviposition. It was determined that the rove beetle Creophilus maxillosus (Linnaeus) was exclusively found on the higher dose nicotine carrion. The rare hoverfly Rhingia rostrata (Linnaeus) was discovered on the control animal; this is the first specimen reported in Nottinghamshire. The investigation also found the first record of the Soldierfly Sargus bipunctatus breeding in carrion; the late breeding period of this species and its significance to the forensic entomologist is considered. The experiments were conducted in the Autumn/Winter months and Spring/Summer months. Nicotine appeared to have a differing effect with the season as the autumnal fauna varied from that of the spring fauna. The presence of nicotine appeared to prevent the animal carcass from drying out, typified by mycophagus beetles in autumn and semi-liquid habitat breeding flies in the summer. The laboratory based investigation examined the effects of nicotine upon the life cycle of Calliphora vomitoria including the effects upon oviposition, rate of development and survivablity. It was found that nicotine significantly affects rate of development of this forensically important fly. This study has shown that a careful study of a single chemical compound and its interaction with carrion and entomology has profound effects upon the alteration of the normal activity of a range of forensically important invertebrates. It will assist in improving the evidential usefulness of entomology to the Forensic Science and Policing communities in criminal investigations.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Chick, A.
Date: September 2014
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights. All Photos, unless expressly stated otherwise, are copy write of the author.
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 10 Aug 2016 10:18
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2016 10:18
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28284

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