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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Carrion Beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) of the Konza Prairie Biological Station

Authors
item Rintoul, David - KANSAS STATE UNIV
item Krueger, Laura - YALE UNIVERSITY
item Woodard, Chari - TEXAS TECH UNIV
item Throne, James

Submitted to: Journal of Kansas Entomological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 15, 2005
Publication Date: June 30, 2005
Citation: Rintoul, D.A., Krueger, L.M., Woodard, C., Throne, J.E. 2005. Carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) of the Konza Prairie Biological Station. Journal of Kansas Entomological Society 78: 124-133.

Interpretive Summary: Carrion beetles are important components of the ecology of tallgrass prairies because they aid in breakdown of animal carcasses. The largest North American carrion beetle, the American burying beetle, is a federally-listed endangered species that has not been documented in Riley County, Kansas, since 1904, but was recently rediscovered in another part of Kansas in 1996. We conducted a two-year study of carrion beetles at the Konza Prairie Biological Station, but did not find any American burying beetles. We did collect nine other species of carrion beetles, and documented their seasonal distribution. More carrion beetles were collected in lowland sites than upland sites, and grassland burn history did not affect number of carrion beetles trapped. This information will be important in understanding the contribution of carrion beetles to the ecology of the tallgrass prairie.

Technical Abstract: Pitfall traps were used to determine diversity, seasonality, and numbers of burying beetles on the Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) during the summers of 1997 and 1998. Traps were baited with either beef liver (1997) or whole mouse carcasses (1997 and 1998); significantly more carrion beetles were found in traps baited with carcasses. A total of 1003 carrion beetles, representing 8 species, were trapped over the course of 1556 trap nights. One of these species, Necrophila americana Linneaus, had not previously been recorded in Riley County. One additional species was found at sites where pitfall trap bait was discarded, bringing the total number of KPBS silphid species to 9. Bait age was an important determinant in attracting silphids to pitfall traps, as numbers of beetles in the trap continued to increase with bait age up to 6 days. Grassland topography (upland vs. lowland trap sites) significantly affected the numbers of carrion beetles trapped. Grassland burn history did not affect number of carrion beetles trapped, but did seem to influence species diversity.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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