Identifier

etd-06092011-103357

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Geography and Anthropology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Four adult pig carcasses were placed within a wildlife center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in order to determine what conditions animals utilize carrion and which animal species engage in scavenging. The cadavers were deposited without any protective covering and wildlife cameras were placed around the pigs in order to document animal scavenging. In two cases cameras showed that coyotes were the initial animal scavengers followed by opossums. In another case coyotes were inferred to have scavenged the pig due to discovering a similar pattern of disarticulation as compared to the previous two scenes. In the third case turkey vultures skeletonized the pig within twenty-four hours. In this case, the site had less tree cover than the other sites, thus making the cadaver more accessible to avian scavengers. In cases where coyotes interacted with the carrion, the skeletal remains were recovered in a linear distribution with the cranium in the original location of the body, the mandible a few feet away from the cranium in the direction of coyote movement and the remaining skeletal remains in line with the first two skeletal elements in the direction of movement. One bone was found with discernable animal gnaw markings. Because this bone was recovered in the late stages of decomposition I infer that carnivorous animals are more likely to gnaw on bones near or after full skeletonization of a body. Precipitation was found to be a determining factor in animal scavenging as animals did not interact with the cadavers on days when it rained on a day following a day when it rained.

Date

2011

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Tague, Robert

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