Will climate change and its effects impact upon forensic entomology and its applications to criminal cases?

Benson, Mollie (2013) Will climate change and its effects impact upon forensic entomology and its applications to criminal cases? BSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Although a relatively old phenomena, the last decade has seen the notion of climate change receive increasing attention and credibility. Headlines of increasing global temperatures and unpredictable weather conditions, melting ice caps and threats of the extinction of vulnerable species have grabbed the attention of the public and demanded their cooperation to reduce their carbon emissions. From a criminal justice perspective, this could have severe consequences for one particular area that relies upon temperature data and specie distribution when presenting expert evidence. Forensic entomology and the application of insects and other arthropods to criminal investigations could decline in accuracy and reliability and require further research if it is not adequately recognised that insects are particularly vulnerable to changing climates.
    With the aim to discover whether climate change will affect the rate of insect life on carrion and the species of insect present, this dissertation analyses both past and present UK entomological and climate data, in order to consider whether the future can be predicted. Arguably the best way to look at the current entomological conditions of an area is to do a controlled decomposition study, illustrating the primary experimental research method of this project. Although presenting some detailed and interesting findings, this research has highlighted the need for repeatable and quantifiable research in the prospect of an uncertain future.
    This dissertation has reached the conclusion that forensic entomology stands to be effected by changing climates. Past records relied upon for comparisons with current criminal cases are becoming increasingly outdated, questioning the credibility of such expert evidence in court. The possibility of miscarriages of justice is inevitable, if the consequences of climate change on flora and fauna go unnoticed. It is therefore the hope that projects such as this one will highlight the issue and prompt academics in the field to explore the concept of climate change in greater depth and update existing data likely to be affected.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2013 15:34
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:26
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/12671

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