Interference competition among burying beetles (Silphidae, Nicrophorus)

TitleInterference competition among burying beetles (Silphidae, Nicrophorus)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1990
AuthorsTrumbo ST
JournalEcological Entomology

1. This study investigated the impact of intraspecific and interspecific competition on the reproductive success of a biparental burying beetle, Nicrophorus defodiens Mannerheim. 2. Marked pairs of single females were placed on small and large mouse carcasses in the field in 1985 and 1986. Carcasses were exhumed after 9-10 days to determine the identity of the resident adult(s) and the production of young. 3. Competition was assessed by the prevalence of takeovers by intruders (unmarked adults). For N. defodiens, after the initial colonization of the carcass, interspecific competition from larger N. orbicollis Say and N. sayi Laporte was substantial and more intense than intraspecific competition. Competition was also greater in the middle of the breeding season and on large as opposed to small carcasses. 4. Successful takeovers resulted in the expulsion of the prior resident(s), killing of any offspring present on the carcass, and oviposition of a new clutch by the intruder. 5. Females aided by males were more likely than single females to avoid takeovers but did not produce larger broods or larvae of larger mass. 6. An additional laboratory experiment in 1985 and a field experiment in 1986 suggest that N. defodiens is able to reproduce on very small carcasses despite intense heterospecific activity.