Carrion flies of forensic interest: a study of seasonal community composition and succession in Lisbon, Portugal

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Abstract.Information on Diptera community, seasonality and successional patterns in every geographical region is fundamental for the use of flies as forensic indicators of time of death. In order to obtain these data from the Lisbon area (Portugal), experiments were conducted during the four seasons of the year, using piglet carcasses as animal models. Five stages were recognized during the decomposition process. The stages, besides visually defined, could be separated taking into account the occurrence and abundance of the specific groups of Diptera collected. In general, the bloated stage recorded higher abundance and species-richness values. Seventy-one species were identified, belonging to 39 families, in a total of 20 144 adult Diptera collected. Autumn yielded the highest values of species richness, whereas winter had the lowest. In all seasons of the year, Calliphoridae was the dominant family; Muscidae and Fanniidae were very abundant as well. Calliphora vicina Robineau-Desvoidy, Calliphora vomitoria (Linnaeus), Chrysomya albiceps (Wiedemann), Lucilia ampullacea Villeneuve, Lucilia caesar (Linnaeus), Lucilia sericata (Meigen) (Calliphoridae), Hydrotaea ignava (Harris), Muscina prolapsa (Harris), Synthesiomyia nudiseta (van der Wulp) (Muscidae), Piophila megastigmata McAlpine, Stearibia nigriceps (Meigen) (Piophilidae) and Nemopoda nitidula (Fallén) (Sepsidae) were revealed to be very important members of the Diptera community collected. The necrophagous behaviour, demonstrated by their immatures, using carrion as a food source makes them useful forensic indicator species. Also of relevance is the presence of Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius), S. nudiseta and P. megastigmata, foreign species established in the local carrion communities. This study also marks the first record of S. nudiseta in Portugal.

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