Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 245–252 | Cite as

Habitat Fragmentation and Burying Beetle Abundance and Success

  • Stephen T. Trumbo
  • Philip L. Bloch


Four species of burying beetle (Nicrophorus marginatus F., N. tomentosus Weber, N. orbicollis Say and N. defodiens Mannerheim) are attracted to small, fresh mouse carcasses in northern Michigan. The number of burying beetles and their success (burial of a carcass) were greater in woodlands than in edge or field habitats. Species diversity was least in open fields as assessed by two different indices of diversity. Nicrophorus marginatus was the only species captured in large fields (<25 ha). This species was never trapped in small fields (>5 ha) suggesting that a minimum habitat size might be necessary to maintain local populations. In contrast to previous studies which employed pitfall traps baited with a large quantity of carrion, N. tomentosus was caught exclusively in woodlands at single mouse carcasses. In Connecticut woodlands, burying beetle success, assayed as the proportion of carcasses buried and held for 7 days, was significantly greater in larger as compared to smaller woodlands. The limited success of burying beetles in smaller woodlands was due, in part, to a higher rate of scavenging by vertebrates.

burying beetles carrion community habitat fragmentation Nicrophorus scavengers 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ConnecticutWaterburyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ConnecticutWaterburyUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyGrinnell CollegeGrinnellUSA

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