Forensic entomology research and application in southern Africa: A scoping review

  • Danisile Tembe School of Life Sciences, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  • Samson Mukaratirwa 1. School of Life Sciences, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; *Current: One Health Center for Zoonoses and Tropical and Veterinary Medicine, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, Basseterre, West Indies
Keywords: forensic science, arthropods, post-mortem interval, stages of decomposition, insect diversity

Abstract

The use of forensic entomology is well established in the northern hemisphere, but is still emerging in the southern hemisphere, where most of the current research is not explicitly undertaken in the context of forensics. In this review, we provide an update on the current status of forensic entomology research and its application in relation to estimation of post-mortem interval in various criminal investigations ranging from murder cases, cases of human neglect and the poaching of wildlife in southern Africa, among other issues. A literature search was conducted using Google Scholar, PubMed, Scopus and EBSCOhost databases. The studies reviewed were focused on arthropod diversity during different stages of carcass decomposition, effect of seasons on the abundance and diversity of carrion feeding arthropod species during carcass decomposition, and diurnal and nocturnal oviposition of forensically important insect species during carcass decomposition. It was further observed that arthropod species that established on a decomposing carcass are potentially useful in the estimation of post-mortem interval and determining clues in cases of criminal investigations. The review confirmed the paucity of research in forensic entomology, and its application in southern Africa. Future studies on the research and application of forensic entomology in various criminal investigation scenarios – such as murder cases, human neglect, and wildlife poaching in southern Africa – are therefore needed.

Significance:

  • Forensic entomology research and its application is lagging in southern Africa.
  • There is seasonal variation in the arthropod species used for estimation of post-mortem intervals in southern Africa.
  • Identification of arthropod species diversity in the region has potential for application in forensic investigations.
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Published
2020-05-27