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Soils of contrasting pH affect the decomposition of buried mammalian (Ovis aries) skeletal muscle tissue

Haslam, T. C. F. and Tibbett, M. (2009) Soils of contrasting pH affect the decomposition of buried mammalian (Ovis aries) skeletal muscle tissue. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 54 (4). pp. 900-904. ISSN 0022-1198

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01070.x

Abstract/Summary

Little is known about the effect of edaphic conditions on the decomposition of buried mammalian tissues. To address this, we set up a replicated incubation study with three fresh soils of contrasting pH: a Podsol (acidic), a Cambisol (neutral), and a Rendzina (alkaline), in which skeletal muscle tissue (SMT) of known mass was allowed to decompose. Our results clearly demonstrated that soil type had a considerable effect on the decomposition of SMT buried in soil. Differences in the rate of decomposition were up to three times greater in the Podsol compared with the Rendzina. The rate of microbial respiration was correlated to the rate of soft tissue loss, which suggests that the decomposition of SMT is dependent on the microbial community present in the soil. Decompositional by-products caused the pH of the immediate soil environment to change, becoming more alkaline at first, before acidifying. Our results demonstrate the need for greater consideration of soil type in future taphonomic studies.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Biodiversity, Crops and Agroecosystems Division > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:44883
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell

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