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Title: The ecology of carrion decomposition

item MONDOR, E - Georgia Southern University
item TREMBLAY, M - Georgia Southern University
item TOMBERLIN, J - Texas A&M University
item BENBOW, M - University Of Dayton
item TARONE, A - Texas A&M University
item Crippen, Tawni - Tc

Submitted to: Nature Education
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2012
Publication Date: 9/15/2012
Citation: Mondor, E.B., Tremblay, M.N., Tomberlin, J.K., Benbow, M.E., Tarone, A.M., Crippen, T.L. 2012. The ecology of carrion decomposition. Nature Education Knowledge. 3(10):21.

Interpretive Summary: The educational division of the Nature Publishing Group is developing a suite of innovative educational resources to support institutions, instructors, students, and societies in the form of an open teaching and learning platform for the life sciences. Articles are written by recognized experts and peer-reviewed with the goal of improving the quality and impact of science education that can be accessed by all parts of the world without a cost barrier. This article addresses the ecology of carrion decomposition, including associated bacterial activities, and represents high quality, vetted scientific information important to food security, food safety, and disease reduction that is accessible to the global community.

Technical Abstract: Carrion, or the remains of dead animals, is something that most people would like to avoid. It is visually unpleasant, emits foul odors, and may be the source of numerous pathogens. Decomposition of carrion, however, provides a unique opportunity for scientists to investigate how nutrients cycle through an ecosystem. Many people might ask, “Why is this subject important?” Simply put, understanding carrion decomposition is important from both a basic and applied perspective. Carrion decomposition experiments allow us to better understand how ecosystems function so that we can more effectively manage natural environments and pathogen movement. It also enhances our abilities to identify the factors influencing decomposition rates to solve the forensic mysteries surrounding unexplained deaths of animals, including humans.