Statistical questions in estimating postmortem interval from insect evidence

Lynn LaMotte (Lousianna State University)

Friday 11th May, 2012 15:00-16:00 Maths 203


Insect evidence around a decomposing body can provide a bi- ological clock by which the time of exposure can be estimated. As decom- position progresses, y larvae grow and go through distinct developmental stages, and a succession of insect species visits the scene.

Viewed broadly, the question, how long the body has been exposed, ts into the framework of inverse prediction. However, insect evidence is both quantitative and categorical. Size data are multivariate, and their magni- tudes, variances, and correlations change with age. Presence/absence of im- portant species manifests categorically, but the number of distinct categories can number in the thousands.

The statistical challenge is to devise an approach that can provide a credible, defensible estimate of postmortem interval based on such data. In this talk I shall present the setting and describe joint work I have undertaken with Je rey D. Wells, a forensic entomologist, to address this question.

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