Books  Animal & General Biology  Animal & General Biology 

Essential Forensic Biology


By: Alan Gunn

424 pages, Col & b/w figs, tabs

John Wiley & Sons

Paperback | Jan 2009 | Edition: 2 | #177574 | ISBN-13: 9780470758038
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £29.95 $37/€35 approx
Hardback | Feb 2009 | Edition: 2 | #177573 | ISBN-13: 9780470758045
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £110.00 $137/€127 approx

About this book

Fully revised and updated, this second edition of a highly successful text carefully guides the reader through the science of biology in legal investigations. Now in full colour throughout, the book provides a detailed description of the decay process, and discusses the role of forensic indicators - human fluids and tissues, including blood cells, bloodstain pattern analysis, hair, teeth, bones and wounds. It also considers the role microorganisms, invertebrates and plants play within forensic investigations before considering future directions in forensic science.

The book examines the study of forensic biology in cases of suspicious death, and also explores the organisms used in a range of legal investigations; from human and animal neglect to food spoilage, structural damage, the illegal collection/trade of protected species and bioterrorism. New case studies have been included in this edition with multi choice questions now available at the end of each chapter to enhance student understanding.

An invaluable introductory text for all students taking forensic science courses, the book features a fully integrated website that covers forensic entomology with additional material and figures from the text to enhance student understanding.


Introduction. 1. The Decay Process. The stages of decomposition. Fresh. Bloat. Putrefaction. Putrid dry remains. Factors affecting the speed of decay. Burial underground. Burial underwater. Time of year and temperature. Exposure to sunlight. Burning. Geographical location. Quick quiz. Project work. 2. Human Fluids and Molecular Biological Techniques as Forensic Indicators. Body fluids and waste products. Blood cells and blood typing. Confirming the presence of blood. Bloodstain pattern analysis. The Sam Sheppard case. The Sion Jenkins case. Saliva and semen as forensic indicators. Faeces and urine as forensic indicators. Molecular biology. The structure of DNA. DNA profiling. The Colin Pitchfork case. Forensic applications of DNA profiling. Evaluation of DNA evidence. Polymerase chain reaction. Short tandem repeat markers. Y Short tandem repeat markers. Single nucleotide polymorphism markers. Mobile element insertion polymorphisms. Mitochondrial DNA. The Tsar Nicholas II case. Quick quiz. Project work. 3. Human Tissues and Wounds as Forensic Indicators. The outer body surface. Skin. Fingerprints. Lip prints and ear prints. Retinal and iris scans. Tattoos. Hair. Characteristics. Assimilation of poisons, drugs and explosives. Bones. Characteristics. Determination of gender. Determination of ethnic origin. Determination of stature. Determination of age. Facial reconstruction. Determination of age of remains. Teeth. Characteristics. Determination of age. Determination of gender and ethnic origin. Identification based on dental characteristics. Effects of drug abuse on dental characteristics. Wounds. Definitions. Bruises. Abrasions. Lacerations. Incised wounds. Stab wounds. Bone damage. Gunshot wounds. Bite marks. Burns and scalds. Postmortem injuries. Quick quiz. Project work. 4. Bacteria and Viruses in Forensic Science. Introduction. The role of microorganisms in the decomposition process. Microbial profiles as identification tools. How microbial infections can predispose people to crime and simulate the occurrence of a criminal act. The use of microorganisms in bioterrorism. Anthrax. Plague. Smallpox. The transmission of HIV as a criminal act. The role of microbes in food poisoning. Quick quiz. Project work. 5. Protists, Fungi and Plants in Forensic Science. Introduction. Protists as forensic indicators. Fungi as forensic indicators. Plants as forensic indicators. Wood. Pollen and spores. Fruits, seeds and leaves. Plant secondary metabolites as sources of drugs and poisons. Illegal trade in protected plant species. Quick quiz. Project work. 6. Invertebrates in Forensic Science. Introduction. Invertebrates as forensic indicators in cases of murder or suspicious death. Invertebrates attracted to dead bodies. Detritivores. Carnivores and parasitoids. Parasitoid insects. Coprophiles. Invertebrates leaving dead bodies. Invertebrates accidentally associated with dead bodies. Invertebrates as a cause of death. Invertebrates as forensic indicators in cases of neglect and animal welfare. The role of invertebrates in food spoilage and hygiene litigation. Invertebrates as a cause of nuisance. Invertebrates as a cause of structural damage. Illegal trade in protected species of invertebrates. Quick quiz. Project work. 7. Forensic Information Gained from Invertebrates. The importance of correct identification. Calculating the minimum time since death or infestation from invertebrate development rates. Complicating factors affecting minimum time since death calculations. Determination of the minimum time since death or infestation using invertebrate species composition. Determination of the minimum time since death using ectoparasites. Determination of body movement or point of infestation from invertebrate evidence. Invertebrate evidence in cases of wound myiasis and neglect. Detection of drugs, toxins and other chemicals in invertebrates. Obtaining DNA evidence from invertebrates. Determining the source and duration of invertebrate infestations of food and timber products. Quick quiz. Project work. 8. Vertebrates in Forensic Science. Introduction. Vertebrate scavenging of human corpses. Vertebrates causing death and injury. Neglect and abuse of vertebrates. Vertebrates and drugs. Vertebrates and food hygiene. Illegal trade in protected species of vertebrates. Quick quiz. Project work. 9. Collection of Animal and Plant Material for Forensic Studies. Introduction. The importance of scientific rigour and safety issues when collecting biological material. Collecting and preserving diatoms and algae for forensic analysis. Collecting and preserving testate amoebae for forensic analysis. Collecting and preserving plant material for forensic analysis. Collecting invertebrates for forensic analysis. Killing and preserving techniques for invertebrates. Killing methods for hard bodied invertebrates. Killing methods for soft bodied invertebrates. Preservation of hard bodied invertebrates. Preservation of soft bodied invertebrates. Preservation of invertebrate eggs. Invertebrate identification techniques. Collecting environmental information for forensic analysis. Quick quiz. Project work. Postscript: Future Directions in Forensic Biology. References. Index.

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Dr. Alan Gunn is senior lecturer and Zoology Programme Director at the School of Biological & Earth Sciences, at John Moores University. He has written numerous papers on parasitology, the biology of blowflies, the physiology and behaviour of agricultural pests and ecotoxicology, and develops computer based learning tools to support his teaching in these areas. He is interested in the effectiveness of enquiry based learning as a means of enhancing student performance and has written several papers on this topic. This is his first textbook.

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