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Variation in Developmental Time for Geographically Distinct Populations of the Common Green Bottle Fly, Lucilia sericata (Meigen)

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Time between death and discovery of remains, or postmortem interval (PMI), can be assessed using blow fly maggot age. Forensic entomologists rely on published, often nonlocal, species-specific developmental tables to determine maggot age. In a series of common garden experiments, we investigated the developmental rate variation between populations of Lucilia sericata collected from Sacramento, CA, San Diego, CA, and Easton, MA at 16°C, 26°C, and 36°C. For the 16°C trial the time measurement started at egg hatch, while for the higher temperatures the experiment began at oviposition; the wandering stage signified the endpoint for all experiments. The distribution of developmental times differed significantly (ANOVA, p < 0.001) between the three populations within each temperature treatment. We discovered that regional variation of developmental times within a blow fly species exists. This study demonstrates the importance of assembling local population-specific developmental tables when estimating larval age to determine PMI.
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Keywords: Calliphoridae; Lucilia sericata; blow fly development; forensic entomology; forensic science; larvae; postmortem interval

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Graduate Group in Forensic Science, 1333 Research Park Drive, University of California, Davis, CA 95618. 2: Department of Entomology, 1 Shields Ave., University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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