Standing

Graduate (Masters)

Type of Proposal

Oral Research Presentation

Challenges Theme

Open Challenge

Your Location

Windsor, ON

Faculty

Faculty of Science

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Sherah VanLaerhoven

Abstract/Description of Original Work

As humans, we tend to focus on the greener, living aspects of the environment and often forget the other side filled with death and decay. Carrion, the decaying flesh of dead animals, is a nutrient-rich, spatially patchy ephemeral resource, relied upon as a food by a variety of organisms. As a patchy and finite resource, carrion's availability and distribution are unpredictable. Some factors that can influence the availability and production of carrion include predation, old age, and anthropogenic causes. Feeding on these resources are many scavengers, both facultative and obligate, vertebrate and arthropod. A primary consumer of carrion are blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae); often the first organisms to arrive at a decaying carcass. There are at least 11 blow fly species in SW Ontario, all requiring carrion resources for immature larval development yet manage to co-exist on what has been stated to be a rare, patchy ephemeral resource. My thesis will be testing the hypothesis that carrion resources are not as rare as previously considered and may be predicted using land-use attributes. Specifically, I will be using geospatial technology to model land-use attributes in the urban and rural areas of Essex County, Ontario. Some distinct elements of land-use being examined include farm, residential, commercial, and conservation. Following this, sites will be randomly chosen to trap blow flies across the gradient of land-use predicted to influence carrion availability, measuring blow fly species diversity along this gradient. This knowledge furthers our understanding of blow fly co-existence across a spatial and temporal landscape.

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Are carrion resources as scarce as we think?

As humans, we tend to focus on the greener, living aspects of the environment and often forget the other side filled with death and decay. Carrion, the decaying flesh of dead animals, is a nutrient-rich, spatially patchy ephemeral resource, relied upon as a food by a variety of organisms. As a patchy and finite resource, carrion's availability and distribution are unpredictable. Some factors that can influence the availability and production of carrion include predation, old age, and anthropogenic causes. Feeding on these resources are many scavengers, both facultative and obligate, vertebrate and arthropod. A primary consumer of carrion are blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae); often the first organisms to arrive at a decaying carcass. There are at least 11 blow fly species in SW Ontario, all requiring carrion resources for immature larval development yet manage to co-exist on what has been stated to be a rare, patchy ephemeral resource. My thesis will be testing the hypothesis that carrion resources are not as rare as previously considered and may be predicted using land-use attributes. Specifically, I will be using geospatial technology to model land-use attributes in the urban and rural areas of Essex County, Ontario. Some distinct elements of land-use being examined include farm, residential, commercial, and conservation. Following this, sites will be randomly chosen to trap blow flies across the gradient of land-use predicted to influence carrion availability, measuring blow fly species diversity along this gradient. This knowledge furthers our understanding of blow fly co-existence across a spatial and temporal landscape.