D0327 Burying beetles, including the American burying beetle, prefer moist soil during periods of inactivity

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Exhibit Hall 3, First Floor (Reno-Sparks Convention Center)
W. Wyatt Hoback , Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
Rachel Anschutz , Biology, University of Nebraska - Kearney, Kearney, NE
Laboratory and field measures reveal that burying beetles including the American burying beetle seek moist soils during periods of inactivity. Presence of leaf litter increased the use of soils by some species but not others. Burying beetles have high water loss rates and likely seek moist microhabitats to avoid desiccation. Conforming to observations in the field, Nicrophorus carolinus used dry soils more than other species studied. In paired choice tests, American burying beetles did not avoid any soil type based on the presence of gravel. Thus, earlier speculation that burying beetles will avoid graveled areas seems to be incorrect. Field measures revealed that soil compaction changes seasonally but is similar among soil types. Presence of gravel is not great enough to serve as a deterrent to beetles even at the road shoulder. Additional studies should be conducted to further pinpoint moisture requirements of beetles and to determine if gravel deters the use of road shoulders for carcass burial.

doi: 10.1603/ICE.2016.38327