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Ecology and Conservation of the Endangered American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

Mark V. Lomolino, J. Curtis Creighton, Gary D. Schnell and David L. Certain
Conservation Biology
Vol. 9, No. 3 (Jun., 1995), pp. 605-614
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2386614
Page Count: 10
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Ecology and Conservation of the Endangered American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)
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Abstract

Field studies were conducted on the western population of the endangered American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) in Oklahoma and Arkansas to determine its habitat affinities. A common cause of declining populations is some specialized adaptation that makes it difficult to respond to a rapidly changing habitat. We evaluated the hypothesis that N. americanus is a habitat specialist in its search for food, preferring mature forests with deep, humic soils. This hypothesis was rejected. Based on comparisons of niche breadth among syntopic congeners and niche overlap. N. americanus is relatively generalized in its use of a range of habitats when searching for food. It is likely that the generalist nature and the endangered status of N. americanus both derive from the fact that it is the largest member of its guild. In comparison to smaller species, N. americanus breeds on larger carcasses, which are more unpredictable in space and time. It is likely, therefore, that N. americanus must search over a larger area and greater diversity of habitats than its smaller congeners.

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