Dr. Jennifer Pechal



Postdoctoral Associate

About Me

My research interests are focused on decomposition ecology. Specifically, identifying microbial species involved in the decompositional processes of ephemeral resources in terrestrial habitats, and their roles influence community assemblages, microbe-invertebrate interactions, and ecosystem dynamics. I am interested in analyzing successional changes of microbial communities based on functional and structural profiles throughout decomposition. Utilizing molecular and physiological responses of microbial communities is a novel concept being applied to carrion models in order to better elucidate species interactions and mechanisms regulating decomposition.

This work is part of a multi-institutional collaborative effort studying microbial communities found on decomposing resources. Data collected in collaboration with Drs. Jeff Tomberlin and Aaron Tarone at Texas A&M University and Dr. Tawni Crippen at the USDA-ARS in College Station, Texas will add to the overall knowledge of the driving forces governing decomposition of ephemeral resources and provide empirical data to support the theoretical concepts of ecology and community assembly. Additionally, it is providing one of the foundations for more accurate estimations of how long a resource has been decomposing, which directly translates to improving forensics estimations of how long a person has been exposed for colonization or period of insect activity.


Pechal, JL, TL Crippen, ME Benbow, AM Tarone, S Dowd, JK Tomberlin. 2013. The potential use of bacterial                      

           community succession in forensics as described by high throughput metagenomic sequencing. International

           Journal of Legal Medicine. DOI: 10.1007/s00414-013-0872-1

Benbow, ME, AJ Lewis, JK Tomberlin, JL Pechal. Seasonal Necrophagous Insect Community Assembly During Vertebrate Carrion Decomposition. Journal of Medical Entomology 50(2): 440-450.

Tomberlin, JK, TL Crippen, AM Tarone, B Singh, K Adams, YH Rezenom, ME Benbow, M Flores, M Longnecker, JL Pechal, DH Russell, RC Beier, and TK Wood. 2012. Interkingdom responses of flies to bacteria mediated by fly physiology and bacterial quorum sensing. Animal Behaviour 84: 1449-1456.

Pechal, JL, ME Benbow, and JK Tomberlin. 2011. Merope tuber Newman (Mecoptera: Meropidae) collected in association with carrion in Greene County, Ohio, USA: an infrequent collection of an elusive species.  The American Midland Naturalist. 166(2): 453-457.

Sanford, MR, JL Pechal, and JK Tomberlin. 2011. Rehydration of forensically important larval Diptera specimens. Journal of Medical Entomology 48(1): 118-125.

Pechal, JL, JW Austin, AL Szalanski, RE Gold, and JK Tomberlin. 2008. Genetic analysis of Periplaneta americana (Blattodea: Blatteridae) in central Texas using the ITS1 region. Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology 25(3): 179-191.

Pechal, JL, J Austin, RE Gold, and JK Tomberlin. 2007. Epidemiology and spatial relationships of bacteria associated with Periplaneta Americana (Blattodea: Blattidae) in central Texas. Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology 24 (4): 205-216.