A Review of Nearctic Rove Beetles (Staphylinidae) Specialized on the Burrows and Nests of Vertebrates

  • Adam J. Brunke
  • Joel Buffam


Ecosystem engineers, such as social insects, burrowing mammals, and beavers , have a large physical impact on their environment and create new niches for a diversity of organisms. New species or entire lineages of commensal insects have evolved in response to these new microhabitats, and the hyperdiverse rove beetles (Staphylinidae) are no exception. A well-known assemblage of commensal rove beetles in Central Europe is closely associated with the nests and burrows of mammals and birds. Despite similar temperate biomes and an even greater diversity of suitable host vertebrates in the Nearctic region, this fauna remains poorly known, and its documentation is scattered in collections and the primary literature. This review provides an overview of the rove beetles putatively specialized for life in burrows and nests . A total of 46 species from 7 of the 25 Nearctic subfamilies are known thus far, with most in the Aleocharinae and Staphylininae. Hosts for Nearctic Staphylinidae include groundhog, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, pocket gophers, mountain beaver, gopher tortoise, woodrats, North American beaver and muskrat, and several species of birds. Numerous potential vertebrate hosts remain overlooked, and most known hosts are rarely sampled and then only within a small portion of their distribution. Many new species likely remain to be discovered in these microhabitats.



We would like to thank Aleš Smetana (Ottawa, Canada) for fruitful discussions and for sharing his knowledge of nidicolous Staphylinidae in both the Nearctic and Palaearctic. Jan Klimaszewski (Natural Resources Canada) is thanked for providing images of Aleochara rubripennis, Atheta bubo, A. richardsoni, and Hylota ochracea. Serge Laplante and Owen Lonsdale (Ottawa, Canada) provided access to imaging equipment.


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Copyright information

© Crown 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and NematodesAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaOttawaCanada

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