Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 37–43 | Cite as

Effect of forest removal on the abundance of the endangered American burying beetle, Nicrophorus americanus (Coleoptera: Silphidae)

  • J. Curtis Creighton
  • Robert Bastarache
  • Mark V. Lomolino
  • Mark C. Belk
Original Paper


We test the hypothesis that the decline of the endangered American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) from over 90% of its original range is the result of habitat loss and fragmentation of eastern North America. Forest removal at a site in southeastern Oklahoma known to have a significant population of N. americanus gave us a unique opportunity to test this hypothesis. At the local scale of this experiment, N. americanus declined significantly after forest removal while beetle numbers at adjacent forested plots did not change. Our results indicate that local disturbances such as forest removal, if occurring across relatively broad spatial scales, can cause wholesale geographic range collapse in this species.


Habitat loss Forest fragmentation Endangered species American burying beetle Nicrophorus americanus Silphidae 



We thank James Moodie, David Smith and Christy Youker for assistance with field work and Michael Weiser for identification of ant species. Funding was provided by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service through Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Curtis Creighton
    • 1
  • Robert Bastarache
    • 2
  • Mark V. Lomolino
    • 3
  • Mark C. Belk
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesPurdue University CalumetHammondUSA
  2. 2.Ouachita National Forest, United States Forest ServiceIdabelUSA
  3. 3.SUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuseUSA
  4. 4.Department of Integrative BiologyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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