An important research focus at the Centre is decomposition, including early and late taphonomy and the sciences associated with this process.
The Forensic Entomology group is an integral component of this activity. In addition to offering teaching and training both within UWA and externally to other universities and law enforcement agencies, the group supports Master and PhD research programs that are focused on insects and arthropods involved in the decomposition of human and animal remains.
The primary research interests of the Forensic Entomology group include:
- Insects and associated arthropods that are involved in the decomposition of humans and carcasses.
- The impact of various treatments of cadavers (for example, burning, hanging, carbon-monoxide gassing, refrigeration, burying, submersion in water) on the arrival and development rates of native blowflies.
- The influence of fly larval and pupal parasitoids (wasps) on the development rate of various forensically significant blowfly species.
- Investigating the factors that determine the arrival of selective species of native blowflies at a corpse. These blowflies often hold the key to post-mortem interval estimations.
- Determining which odours released during decomposition are involved in attracting blowflies to a corpse, and how each species responds to these odours.
- Flies as vectors of disease, and problems associated with fly breeding in human waste and in the horticultural and livestock industries.
- Providing time of death estimates to various law enforcement agencies for homicide and suspicious death cases around Australia.
- In collaboration with the Forensic DNA group, we have used DNA profiling as a tool to identify the larvae of forensically significant blowfly species.
We welcome enquiries from science honours and postgraduate students interested in becoming part of this exciting research.