The potential of bioacoustics for surveying carrion insects

Elena Gorgeva, James Robertson, Sasha Voss, Jurian Hoogewerff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Knowledge of the sequential cadaver colonization by carrion insects is fundamental for post-mortem interval (PMI) estimation. Creating local empirical data on succession by trapping insects is time consuming, dependent on accessibility/environmental conditions and can be biased by sampling practices including disturbance to decomposing remains and sampling interval. To overcome these limitations, audio identification of species using their wing beats is being evaluated as a potential tool to survey and build local databases of carrion species. The results could guide the focus of forensic entomologists for further developmental studies on the local dominant species, and ultimately to improve PMI estimations. However, there are challenges associated with this approach that must be addressed. Wing beat frequency is influenced by both abiotic and biotic factors including temperature, humidity, age, size, and sex. The audio recording and post-processing must be customized for different species and their influencing factors. Furthermore, detecting flight sounds amid background noise and a multitude of species in the field can pose an additional challenge. Nonetheless, previous studies have successfully identified several fly species based on wing beat sounds. Combined with advances in machine learning, the analysis of bioacoustics data is likely to offer a powerful diagnostic tool for use in species identification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Journal of Forensic Sciences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Dec 2023


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