Algenrasen auf Wasserleichen zur Abschätzung der Wasserliegezeit: Aktueller Stand der Forschung

Translated title of the contribution: Algal growth on submerged human bodies as indicator of postmortem submersion interval: Current state of the art

H. Rohner, M. A. Rothschild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Algal growth on submerged dead human bodies can sometimes be observed in forensic medical examinations. Even in the late nineteenth century experiments were implemented to document the temporal process of algal colonization as well as to identify algal species on submerged human bodies in lotic water. The results are still mentioned in German language literature but are only used in suitable cases for an approximate estimation of a postmortem submersion interval (PMSI). However, in the past decade American scientists set up experiments using animal carcasses to analyze algal growth on submerged bodies with regard to algal diversity in brackish and fresh waters and chlorophyll concentrations of the algae occurring over time. The appearance of algal growth can only assist an estimation of PMSI in individual cases because it is not yet known how various external factors influence the algal growth on human skin. Aim: This article conveys to the reader the current state of research on estimation of PMSI based on the presence of algae. Material and methods: In this article the current state of knowledge on this long known phenomenon is summarized with reference to a literature search. Furthermore, the potential of algae as an indicator of PMSI in forensic investigations is assessed. Results: The presence of algae on submerged human bodies is still only useful for estimating the PMSI in isolated cases because it is still not known how various external factors affect algal growth on the skin of human corpses. Standardized reference data do not exist. Conclusions: In individual cases a rough estimate of the PMSI can be made by experimental reconstruction of the submersion conditions and comparison with the algal growth on the expreimental corpse in a given case.

Translated title of the contributionAlgal growth on submerged human bodies as indicator of postmortem submersion interval: Current state of the art
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)449-453
Number of pages5
JournalRechtsmedizin
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Forensic medicine
  • Pathology
  • Postmortem changes
  • Review literature as topic
  • Time factors

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