Effect of Altitudinal and Seasonal Factors on Diatomological Mapping of Waterbodies: Implication in Drowning Investigations

Amandeep Kaur, Rajvinder Singh, Rajinder Singh


Diatoms are an essential part of forensic investigation in drowning
cases. They are used to differentiate between ante-mortem and
post-mortem drowning and to ascertain the site of drowning. However,
to do so it is imperative to perform the diatomological mapping
of water sources in different regions. The issue of localizing
a drowning site may be resolved with the help of diatomological
monitoring and mapping of the water sources, which generates substantial
references for meeting the ‘criterion of concordance’. The
present study has generated a database of diatom diversity in relation
to different seasons and altitudes.
Water sampling was made from low, mid and high altitudes
during summer and autumn seasons. Important information was
found after a microscopic examination of diatoms in water samples
from different water bodies at different geographical altitudes.
Twenty-seven diatom genera have been observed in the water
samples from the selected localities. The findings of the current
study have exposed the significant effect of seasonal changes and
varied altitudes on occurrence of diatoms. A variety of commonly
occurring site restricted diatoms were identified in the water samples.
This useful information can be significant while investigating
drowning cases from this particular region when the drowning site
is either questioned or unknown.


Forensic Sciences, Diatoms, Drowning, Altitude, Seasons.

Full Text:



Peabody AJ. Diatoms in forensic science. J Forensic

Sci Soc. 1978; 17:81-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0015-


Pollanen MS. The diatom test for drowning in Ontario.

J Can Soc Forensic Sci. 1996; 29 (4):205 -11. https://


Ludes B, Coste M, Tracqui A, Mangin P. Continuous

river monitoring of the diatoms in the diagnosis of

drowning. J Forensic Sci. 1996; 41 (3):425-8. https://


Ludes B, Coste M, North N, Doray S, Tracqui A, Kintz

P. Diatom analysis in victim’ s tissues as an indicator

of the site of the drowning. Int J Legal Med. 1999; 112

:163-6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s004140050224

Pollanen MS, Cheung L, Chaisson DA. The diagnostic

value of the diatom tests for drowning. I. Utility: a

retrospective analysis of 771 cases of drowning in Ontario,

Canada. J Forensic Sci. 1997; 42:281-5. https://


Kazutoshi AGO, Mihoko AGO, Mamoru OGATA. The

distribution of diatoms in Yoronjima and application of

the diatom test for the diagnosis of death by drowning

in open sea islands. Med J Kagoshima Univ. 2004;


Kaur A, Jasuja OP, Singh R. Diatomological mapping

of Renuka lake in Himachal Pradesh: Significant in forensic

investigation of drowning deaths. Anil Aggrawal’s

Internet J Forensic Med and Toxicol. 2018; 2(19):


Thakar MK, Singh R. Diatomological mapping of water

bodies for the diagnosis of drowning cases. J Forensic

Leg Med. 2010; 17:18-25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.


Singh R, Deepa, Kaur R. Diatomological mapping

of water bodies- A future perspective, J Forensic and

Leg Med. 2013; 20: 622- 25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.


Patrick R. Ecology of freshwater diatoms and diatom

communities. In D. Werner (Ed.), The Biology of Diatoms,

Berkeley: University of California Press. 1977,


DiMaio DJ, DiMaio VJ. Forensic Pathology. Boca Raton:

CRC Press. 1993.

Singh R, Zolawnsangi, Jasuja OP. A preliminary

study on the Diatom flora of various drowning sites in

Mizoram rivers. Anil Aggrawal’s Internet J Forensic

Med Toxicol. 2017; 2(17):1-8.

Wetzel RG. Limnology. Saunders College Publishing.

, 767.

Reynolds CS. The Ecology of Freshwater Phytoplankton.

Cambridge University Press. 1984.

Trent G. Something in the water. ProQuest Direct. Law

and Order. 2004; 52 (6):92-3.

Potapova MG, Charles DF. Benthic diatoms in USA

rivers: distributions along spatial and environmental

gradients. J Biogeogr. 2002; 29:167–87. https://doi.


Rosenzweig ML. Species diversity in space and time.

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 1995.

Thakar MK, Sahota SS, Singh R. Death due to drowning

in Punjab- A survey (2005 to 2006). Medico-Legal

Update. 2009; 9(1):18-22.

Thakar MK, Guleria P. Tracking drowning trends in

Himachal Pradesh during 2006-2010. Anil Aggrawal’s

Internet J Forensic Med Toxicol. 2015;16 (1).

Hartley B, Barber HG Carter JR. An atlas of British

diatoms. Bristol: Biopress Ltd in association with the

Natural History Museum; 1996.

Coelho S, Ramos P, Ribeiro C, Marques J, Santos A.

Contribution to the determination of the place of death

by drowning–A study of diatoms’ biodiversity in Douro

river estuary. J Forensic Leg Med. 2016; 41:58-64.


Stoermer E. F, Smol J.P. A textbook of The Diatoms:

Applications for the Environmental and Earth Sciences.

Cambridge university press, 2004;1- 469.

Nautiyal P. Diatom biodiversity in the Himalayan lotic

systems. Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd., India. 2004.

Gunatilake, Drowning Associated Diatoms in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka J Forensic Med Sci & Law. 2010 1(2),


Foged N. Diatoms and drowning—once more.

Forensic Sci Int. 1983;21(2):153-9. https://doi.


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.26735/16586794.2018.027


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.