Nicrophorus americanus - Olivier, 1790
American Burying Beetle
Other English Common Names: American burying beetle
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Nicrophorus americanus Olivier, 1790 (TSN 200997)
French Common Names: nécrophore d'Amérique
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.113123
Element Code: IICOL42010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Beetles - Other Beetles
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Coleoptera Silphidae Nicrophorus
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Arnett, Jr., Ross H., ed. 1983. Checklist of the Beetles of North and Central America and the West Indies. Flora and Fauna Publications, Gainesville, Florida. 24 P. (Pertains to all subsequent fasicle updates as well).
Concept Reference Code: B83ARN01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Nicrophorus americanus
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 14May2009
Global Status Last Changed: 16Oct2000
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Species has exhibited dramatic range collapse in recent times, having been reduced to less than 10% of its original range and probably much less than 1% of its original occupied habitat. There are certainly more than five and probably fewer than 20 extant populations (or metapopulations), some at relatively low densities and tenuous. However, rank reflects some uncertainty. New populations will probably occasionally be found. It seems possible that there could be over 20 remaining populations and it is difficult to evaluate precise number of viable occurrences. Suffers from a combination of threats which remain serious in some areas although it is protected as an Endangered Species in the United States.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3 (20Oct2000)
Nation: Canada
National Status: NH (28Jun2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SH), Arkansas (S1), Connecticut (SX), Delaware (SX), Florida (SH), Georgia (SU), Illinois (SH), Indiana (SH), Kansas (S1), Kentucky (SX), Louisiana (SH), Maine (SX), Maryland (SX), Massachusetts (S1), Michigan (SH), Minnesota (SX), Mississippi (SX), Missouri (SH), Nebraska (S1), New Jersey (S1), New York (SH), North Carolina (SH), Ohio (SX), Oklahoma (S1), Pennsylvania (SH), Rhode Island (S1), South Carolina (SH), South Dakota (S1), Tennessee (SH), Texas (S1), Virginia (SH), Wisconsin (SX)
Canada Manitoba (SH), Ontario (SH), Quebec (SH)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population (14Aug1989)
Comments on USESA: IUCN_COM: The IUCN Red List status applies to the taxon as circumscribed by the Red List as of 26 January 2019. Matching between the Red List and NatureServe?s database was based on scientific name rather than taxonomic concept; therefore, Red List status may or may not correspond to NatureServe?s circumscription of the taxon.

This species is listed endangered throughout its range, except in in Wah'Kon-tah Prairie in southwest Missouri where it is listed as a nonessential, experimental population.

In a 90-day finding on 29 petitions to list, reclassify, or delist fish, wildlife, or plants under the Endangered Species Act, USFWS (2016) found this petition (to delist) presented substantial information indicating that the petitioned action (delisting) may be warranted and they plan to initiate a status review.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R5 - Northeast
Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: XT (02Jun2017)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Extirpated (25Nov2011)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: There is sufficient information to document that no individuals of the wildlife species remain alive in Canada. This includes that it: (1) is a large distinctive and conspicuous insect not seen for 39 generations; (2) has not been seen despite a tenfold increase in the number of field entomologists and an estimated 300,000 general trap nights at which at least some should have resulted in capture of this species, as well as studies of carrion-feeding beetles that did not reveal it; (3) comes to lights yet still not seen in thousands of light traps; and (4) a recent directed search in the general area where last seen 60 and 39 years ago that failed to find this species.

Status history: Designated Extirpated in November 2011.

IUCN Red List Category: CR - Critically endangered

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: <100-250 square km (less than about 40-100 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Historically widespread in Eastern US and Ontario and Nova Scotia, Canada. Surveys in at least eight states included in its historic range have failed to discover remnamt populations. Currently known to be extant only on Block Island in Rhode Island, in eastern Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota and probably Arkansas. Confirmed in Texas in 2004. Last records in intervening region varied from late 1800s to a few 1970s. Reintroduced to Penikese and Nantucket Islands in Massachusetts.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: One remnant occurrence on Block Island off Rhode Island, recent confirmation from scattered sites in Oklahoma and Nebraska, at least one population believed extant in Arkansas, still extant in South Dakota but its range reduced to "about 1000 square miles in the south central part" (Doug Backlund, pers. comm. to Larry Master, August, 2000). Reintroduced on two islands off Massachusetts. In 2004, confirmed at two locations in NE Texas.

Population Size: 1000 - 2500 individuals
Population Size Comments: About 1,000 or fewer adults surviving through winter to breed next year. Nebraska/South Dakota population at low densities.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats include habitat fragmentation, insecticide and bug-zapper use, disturbance of soils, and competition from vertebrate scavengers.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Serious decline has already occurred, beginning after 1920s. In 50 years its geographic range collapsed to less than 10% of its historic range.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: But widespread decline indicates vulnerability, perhaps to loss of suitably-sized carrion.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Widespread, intensive search needed throughout historic range of species, to locate additional wild populations.

Protection Needs: Protection of Oklahoma populations; determine ownership of all known OK populations; persue voluntary registry, management agreements, conservation easements, fee acquisition.

Global Range: (<100-250 square km (less than about 40-100 square miles)) Historically widespread in Eastern US and Ontario and Nova Scotia, Canada. Surveys in at least eight states included in its historic range have failed to discover remnamt populations. Currently known to be extant only on Block Island in Rhode Island, in eastern Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota and probably Arkansas. Confirmed in Texas in 2004. Last records in intervening region varied from late 1800s to a few 1970s. Reintroduced to Penikese and Nantucket Islands in Massachusetts.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CTextirpated, DEextirpated, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KYextirpated, LA, MA, MDextirpated, MEextirpated, MI, MNextirpated, MO, MSextirpated, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OHextirpated, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WIextirpated
Canada MB, ON, QC

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AR Clark (05019), Franklin (05047), Little River (05081), Logan (05083), Scott (05127), Sebastian (05131)
IN Elkhart (18039)*, Knox (18083)*, Lake (18089)*, Monroe (18105)*, Porter (18127)*, Posey (18129)*, Starke (18149)*, Vanderburgh (18163)*
KS Chautauqua (20019), Elk (20049), Labette (20099), Montgomery (20125), Wilson (20205)
KY Bourbon (21017)*, Bullitt (21029)*, Carroll (21041)*, Clark (21049)*, Fayette (21067)*, Franklin (21073)*, Hardin (21093)*, Henderson (21101)*, Henry (21103)*, Jefferson (21111)*, Jessamine (21113)*, Lyon (21143)*, Madison (21151)*, Oldham (21185)*, Owen (21187)*, Scott (21209)*, Shelby (21211)*, Spencer (21215)*, Trigg (21221)*, Trimble (21223)*, Woodford (21239)*
MA Barnstable (25001)*, Berkshire (25003)*, Bristol (25005)*, Dukes (25007), Essex (25009)*, Hampden (25013)*, Hampshire (25015)*, Middlesex (25017)*, Nantucket (25019), Norfolk (25021)*, Suffolk (25025)*
MD Dorchester (24019)*, Talbot (24041)*
MI Alger (26003)*, Arenac (26011)*, Berrien (26021)*, Kalamazoo (26077)*, Livingston (26093)*, Macomb (26099)*, Marquette (26103)*, Menominee (26109)*, Muskegon (26121)*, Oakland (26125)*, Washtenaw (26161)*
MN Anoka (27003)*, Blue Earth (27013)*, Carver (27019)*, Chisago (27025)*, Dakota (27037)*, Dodge (27039)*, Fillmore (27045)*, Goodhue (27049)*, Hennepin (27053)*, Houston (27055)*, Kanabec (27065)*, Le Sueur (27079)*, Mower (27099)*, Nicollet (27103)*, Olmsted (27109)*, Pope (27121)*, Ramsey (27123)*, Rice (27131)*, Scott (27139)*, Sherburne (27141)*, Sibley (27143)*, Wabasha (27157)*, Waseca (27161)*, Washington (27163)*, Winona (27169)*, Wright (27171)*
MO Cedar (29039)*, Jasper (29097)*, Newton (29145)*, St. Clair (29185)*
MS Chickasaw (28017)*, Lafayette (28071)*, Madison (28089)*, Marshall (28093)*, Oktibbeha (28105)*, Tishomingo (28141)*
NC Buncombe (37021)*, Yancey (37199)*
NE Antelope (31003)*, Blaine (31009), Boone (31011), Boyd (31015), Brown (31017), Cherry (31031), Custer (31041), Dawson (31047), Frontier (31063), Garfield (31071), Gosper (31073), Holt (31089), Hooker (31091), Keya Paha (31103), Lancaster (31109)*, Lincoln (31111), Loup (31115), Rock (31149), Thomas (31171), Valley (31175), Wheeler (31183)
NJ Bergen (34003)*, Burlington (34005)*, Camden (34007)*, Essex (34013)*, Gloucester (34015)*, Hudson (34017)*, Mercer (34021)*, Middlesex (34023)*, Monmouth (34025)*, Morris (34027)*, Ocean (34029)*, Passaic (34031)*, Sussex (34037)*, Union (34039)*
NY Bronx (36005)*, Erie (36029)*, Kings (36047)*, Monroe (36055)*, Nassau (36059)*, New York (36061)*, Putnam (36079)*, Queens (36081)*, Richmond (36085)*, Suffolk (36103)*, Westchester (36119)*
OK Atoka (40005), Bryan (40013), Cherokee (40021), Choctaw (40023), Coal (40029), Craig (40035), Creek (40037), Haskell (40061), Hughes (40063), Johnston (40069), Latimer (40077), Le Flore (40079), Lincoln (40081), Marshall (40095), Mayes (40097), McCurtain (40089), McIntosh (40091), Murray (40099), Muskogee (40101), Okfuskee (40107), Okmulgee (40111), Osage (40113), Payne (40119), Pittsburg (40121), Pontotoc (40123), Pottawatomie (40125), Pushmataha (40127), Rogers (40131), Seminole (40133), Sequoyah (40135), Tulsa (40143), Wagoner (40145), Washington (40147)
PA Erie (42049)*, Northampton (42095)*, Philadelphia (42101)*
RI Washington (44009)
SD Bennett (46007), Brookings (46011), Gregory (46053), Todd (46121), Tripp (46123), Union (46127)*
TN Benton (47005)*
TX Kleberg (48273)*, Lamar (48277), Red River (48387)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Middle Connecticut (01080201)+*, Cape Cod (01090002)+, Pawcatuck-Wood (01090005)+
02 Rondout (02020007)+*, Lower Hudson (02030101)+*, Bronx (02030102)+*, Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+*, Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104)+*, Raritan (02030105)+*, Northern Long Island (02030201)+*, Southern Long Island (02030202)+*, Long Island Sound (02030203)+*, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+*, Lehigh (02040106)+*, Lower Delaware (02040202)+*, Schuylkill (02040203)+*, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+*, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+*, Choptank (02060005)+*, Eastern Lower Delmarva (02080110)+*
03 Tibbee (03160104)+*, Noxubee (03160108)+*
04 Betsy-Chocolay (04020201)+*, Menominee (04030108)+*, Little Calumet-Galien (04040001)+*, St. Joseph (04050001)+*, Kalamazoo (04050003)+*, Lower Grand (04050006)+*, Lake Huron (04080300)+*, Clinton (04090003)+*, Detroit (04090004)+*, Huron (04090005)+*, Ottawa-Stony (04100001)+*, Raisin (04100002)+*, Chautauqua-Conneaut (04120101)+*, Buffalo-Eighteenmile (04120103)+*, Niagara (04120104)+*, Oak Orchard-Twelvemile (04130001)+*, Lower Genesee (04130003)+*, Irondequoit-Ninemile (04140101)+*
05 South Fork Licking (05100102)+*, Lower Kentucky (05100205)+*, Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+*, Lower Wabash (05120113)+*, Lower White (05120202)+*, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+*, Lower Cumberland (05130205)+*, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+*, Salt (05140102)+*, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+*, Highland-Pigeon (05140202)+*
06 Upper French Broad (06010105)+*, Nolichucky (06010108)+*, Pickwick Lake (06030005)+*, Bear (06030006)+*, Kentucky Lake (06040005)+*
07 Crow (07010204)+*, South Fork Crow (07010205)+*, Twin Cities (07010206)+*, Chippewa (07020005)+*, Middle Minnesota (07020007)+*, Le Sueur (07020011)+*, Lower Minnesota (07020012)+*, Snake (07030004)+*, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+*, Rush-Vermillion (07040001)+*, Cannon (07040002)+*, Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)+*, Zumbro (07040004)+*, La Crosse-Pine (07040006)+*, Root (07040008)+*, Coon-Yellow (07060001)+*, Upper Iowa (07060002)+*, Kankakee (07120001)+*, Chicago (07120003)+*
08 Little Tallahatchie (08030201)+*, Yocona (08030203)+*, Coldwater (08030204)+*, Yalobusha (08030205)+*, Upper Ouachita (08040102)+, Lower Big Black (08060202)+*
10 Little White (10140203)+, Lower White (10140204)+, Ponca (10150001)+, Upper Niobrara (10150003)+, Middle Niobrara (10150004)+, Snake (10150005)+, Keya Paha (10150006)+, Lower Niobrara (10150007)+, Lewis and Clark Lake (10170101)+*, Upper Big Sioux (10170202)+, Lower Big Sioux (10170203)+*, Lower South Platte (10190018)+, Middle Platte-Buffalo (10200101)+, Salt (10200203)+*, Upper Middle Loup (10210001)+, Dismal (10210002)+, Lower Middle Loup (10210003)+, Upper North Loup (10210006)+, Lower North Loup (10210007)+, Calamus (10210008)+, Loup (10210009)+, Cedar (10210010)+, Upper Elkhorn (10220001)+, North Fork Elkhorn (10220002)+*, Medicine (10250008)+, Harlan County Reservoir (10250009)+, Harry S. Missouri (10290105)+*
11 Lower Cimarron (11050003)+, Black Bear-Red Rock (11060006)+, Fall (11070102)+, Middle Verdigris (11070103)+, Elk (11070104)+, Lower Verdigris (11070105)+, Caney (11070106)+, Bird (11070107)+, Spring (11070207)+*, Lower Neosho (11070209)+, Lower Canadian-Walnut (11090202)+, Little (11090203)+, Lower Canadian (11090204)+, Lower North Canadian (11100302)+, Deep Fork (11100303)+, Polecat-Snake (11110101)+, Dirty-Greenleaf (11110102)+, Illinois (11110103)+, Robert S. Kerr Reservoir (11110104)+, Poteau (11110105)+, Frog-Mulberry (11110201)+, Dardanelle Reservoir (11110202)+, Petit Jean (11110204)+, Fourche La Fave (11110206)+, Middle Washita (11130303)+, Lower Washita (11130304)+, Bois D'arc-Island (11140101)+, Blue (11140102)+, Muddy Boggy (11140103)+, Clear Boggy (11140104)+, Kiamichi (11140105)+, Pecan-Waterhole (11140106)+, Upper Little (11140107)+, Lower Little (11140109)+
12 San Fernando (12110204)+*
NS NS-06 (NS-06)+*, NS-07 (NS-07)+*, NS-08 (NS-08)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A large shiny black burying beetle.
General Description: A large shiny black beetle with 2 bright orange marks on each elytra. The best diagnostic character is the large orange mark on the beetle's pronotum, which is unique to this species. The frons also bears an orange marking, and there is a second orange facial mark below this. The shape of the latter mark varies with sex: rectangular in males, triangular in females. Antennae have enlarged orange clubs at tips (Raithel, 1991). Best sources for identification: Andrea Kozol, Chris Raithel.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Large orange spot on pronotum distinguishes this species from all others in the genus.
Reproduction Comments: Reproduction occurs from late April through mid August. Block Island populations are reproductively active in June and July, but Oklahoma beetles breed as early as April, or as late as August. Reproductive activity includes the burial of a carcass, building of a chamber, and laying eggs. Number of eggs produced is not known, but anywhere from 1 to 36 larvae have been observed on carcass (Kozol, pers. comm.). One or both parents feed, tend, and guard larvae throughout this stage (48-60 days). N. AMERICANUS is univoltine, generally raising only one brood per year. In Oklahoma, teneral adults may be reproductively active and, in such cases, it is possible that 2 broods are raised during the year (Raithel, 1991). It is doubtful that adults remain reproductively viable for more than one season, they apparently dye off after reproduction or during the subsequent winter (Raithel, 1991).
Ecology Comments: Burying beetles are thought to be an important component of the decomposing loop of ecosystems. Predators and scavengers such as American crow, raccoon, fox, oppossum and skunk compete with N. AMERICANUS for carrion. Competition for carrion within the genus NICROPHORUS and within the species N. AMERICANUS is documented (Kozol, 1989). There are no known incidences of mammalian or bird predation on the beetles (Kozol, pers. comm.). Major parasites are nematodes. Co-occurring mites have been observed on beetles. The significance of the relationship between mites and carrion beetles is not clear, but it is believed to be mutually beneficial: the beetle provides the mites mobility and access to food, and the mites help keep the beetle and carcass clean by consuming microbes and fly eggs (Raithel, 1991).
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: N. AMERICANUS is a strong flier, travelling moderate distances. Probably capable of flying from mainland to Block Island (approx. 8 miles), but there is no evidence confirming this. It is suspected that beetles are capable of moving all over Block Island (6400 acres) (Kozol, pers. comm.).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Shrubland/chaparral
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: Species exhibits broad vegetational tolerances, though natural habitat may be mature forests. Species is recorded from grassland, old field shrubland, and hardwood forests. Block Island population occurs on glacial moraine dominated by maritime scrub-shrub community. Plant species include bayberry (Myrica), shadbush (Amelanchier), goldenrod (Solidago), and various non-native plants. Vegetational communities in which N. AMERICANUS occurs range from large mowed and grazed fields to dense shrub thickets. Oklahoma habitats vary from deciduous oak-hickory and coniferous forests atop ridges or hillsides to deciduous riparian corridors and pasturelands on valley floors. Soil characteristics also important to the beetle's ability to bury carrion. Extremely xeric, saturated, or loose sandy soils are unsuitable for these activities. Historic collections were made when forests had been cleared and the land was largely agricultural. Habitats associated with these collections were not clearly described. Adults live primarily above ground. Eggs are laid in soil adjacent to buried carcass. Teneral adults overwinter in soil (Raithel, 1991; Creighton, et al, 1992).
Adult Food Habits: Scavenger
Immature Food Habits: Scavenger
Food Comments: Adults bury vertebrate carcasses, upon which larvae feed, between 80 and 100 grams of weight. Are capable of burying carrion weighing up to 206 grams (Kozol, 1990; Kozol et al, 1988). Block Island populations utilizing abundant carrion resources of Ring-necked Pheasant chicks and American Woodcock. Oklahoma beetles feeding on small mammals such as Hispid Cotton Rat (Kozol, pers. comm.). Elsewhere in historic range, beetles were known to consume fish used as fertilizer in fields. Food resources dependent upon carrion availability in particular area. Carrion is shaved, rolled into a ball, and treated with secretions by adults. It may be moved laterally several feet to suitable substrate. Adults feed regurgitated carrion to larvae until they are capable of feeding directly from the carcass. Adults classified as opportunistic scavengers, feeding on anything dead, but also catch and kill other insects (Raithel, 1991).
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Populations active from April through September. Adults are nocturnal, and require air temperatures of 60 degrees F. for activity. Eggs laid between April and September, but most commonly June and July. Larvae require 48-60 days to develop. They feed continuously throughout the 24 hour day, emerging as teneral adults in July and August. Newly emerged adults are dormant throughout the winter, reproducing the following spring. Post-breeding adults die during the summer or following winter (Kozol, pers. comm.; Raithel, 1991).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Range was once widespread in North America, but now covers only Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Nebraska. Reasons for decline are not well understood, but habitat fragmentation, human activity, and pesticides are all possible contributing factors. It is difficult to predict whether or not populations can be restored or if existing populations will maintain the species. It is very critical that these populations are protected and monitored. Captive reared populations have been used for reintroduction; the success of reintroduction still remains to be seen. Research on this species is needed.
Restoration Potential: Measures to reverse the decline of this species are being considered at this time, but since the area and biological requirements for the long-term viability of populations are unknown, and the factors contributing to the decline of this species may still be unknown (Raithel, 1991), the potential for restoring these populations is difficult to predict. Schweitzer and Master (1987) suggest a rangewide recovery plan could be implemented only with some understanding of the causes for decline. One suggested step toward recovery is the use of reintroductions. Whether there is any unoccupied habitat remaining or whether the populations that exist today are large enough to maintain the species is questionable.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Preserves must contain a continued abundance of food sources for these beetles. Carrion must be between 50 and 200 grams.
Management Requirements: Because the American burying beetle has a highly vulnerable status in the wild, the two known natural populations (Block Island, Rhode Island and eastern Oklahoma) should be protected and maintained. Another requirement is maintaining captive populations for reintroducing the beetle to its historical habitat. Maintaining proper habitat (mature forests), and enhancing new habitat is very important. Enhancing new habitat and open fields can be done by mowing, grazing and burning.
Monitoring Requirements: Monitoring the wild populations on Block Island and in Oklahoma by a mark-and-recapture technique and by nonlethal pitfall trapping are important for managing this species. Also, providing carrion sources and protecting these sources from birds and mammals during the peak reproductive period will promote reproduction.
Management Research Needs: Identification and management information on the optimum carrion-producing vertebrates for the American burying beetle is needed. Research on optimum carrion availability will provide information that is necessary for sampling, management and reintroduction efforts. Population modeling information is needed.
Biological Research Needs: Continue to investigate potential reasons for decline, inventory vertebrates and characterize habitat; continue reintroduction efforts, especially on mainland.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 11Jul2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Almquist, D.T.
Management Information Edition Date: 30Sep1993
Management Information Acknowledgments: Thanks to all the state Heritage Program personnel who responded to requests for information: Massachusetts - Kelly Slater; Ohio - Pat Jones; Florida - Katy NeSmith; Missouri - Rosalyn Johnson; Nebraska - Mary Clausen; Mississippi - Tom Mann; South Dakota - Doug Backlund; Oklahoma - Ian Butler; Connecticut - Dawn McKay; Pennsylvania - Barb Barton; Arizona - Cindy Osborne; Vermont - Chris Fichtel; New Jersey - Rick Dutko; Georgia - Greg Krakow; Maryland - Lynn Davidson; Indiana - Michelle Martin; North Carolina - Harry LeGrand; Wisconsin - Karen Gaines; Kansas - Bill Busby; TVA - Chuck Nicholson. Christopher Raithel and Curtis Creighton reviewed an earlier draft and provided many suggestions that added substantially to the final document.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 30Sep1993
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): CARPENTER, VIRGINIA; VAN DAM, B.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).



  • Anderson, R. S. 1982. On the decreasing abundance of Nicrophorus americanus Olivier (Coleoptera: Silphiae) in eastern North America. The Coleopterists Bulletin 36(2):362-5.

  • Arnett, Jr., Ross H., ed. 1983. Checklist of the Beetles of North and Central America and the West Indies. Flora and Fauna Publications, Gainesville, Florida. 24 P. (Pertains to all subsequent fasicle updates as well).

  • Arnett, R. H., Jr., N. M. Downie, and H. E. Jaques. 1980. How to know the beetles. Second Edition. William C. Brown and Company, Publishers. Pages 127-8.


  • Bousquet, Y., P. Bouchard, A.E. Davies, and D.S. Sikes. 2013. Checklist of beetles (Coleoptera) of Canada and Alaska, second edition. Pensoft Series Faunistica No 109.

  • Creighton, J. C., C. C. Vaughn, et al. 1991. Habitat use and genetic characterization and variability in the American burying beetle, Nicrophorus americanus, in Oklahoma. Unpublished report submitted to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 7 pp.

  • Creighton, J. Curtis, Caryn Vaughn, and Brian Chapman. 1992. Habitat preference of the endangered American Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus americanus, in Oklahoma. Unpubl. rep. for US Fish and Wildlife Service.


  • Hecht, A. 1989. Federal Register, Rules and Regulations. 54(133).

  • Kozol, A. J. 1990. Nicrophorus americanus 1989 laboratory population at Boston University: a report prepared for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unpublished.

  • Kozol, Andrea J, Michelle Scott and James Traniello. 1988. The American Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus americanus: studies on the natural history of a declining species. Psyche 95(3-4): 167-176.

  • Kozol, Andrea J. 1989. Studies of the American Burying Beetle, Nicrophorus americanus, on Block Island. Department of Biology, Boston University.

  • Kozol, Andrea J., et al. N.D. Distributional and Natural History of the American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus america- nus).

  • Lago, Paul K. 1994. Status survey of Nicrophorus americanus olivier in north-central Mississippi. Technical report submitted to the Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Fund 1993 Research Grant Program.

  • Lingafelter, S. W. and W. H. Busby. 1992. Survey for the American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) in Eastern Kansas. Reports of the State Biological Survey of Kansas, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66047-2906. 14 pp.



  • Mehlhop-Cifelli, P. 1990. Status of Nicrophorus americanus, American burying beetle, in the vicinity of a known site of occurrence in Oklahoma. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tulsa, Oklahoma. 30 pp.

  • Milne, Lorus J. and M.J. Milne. 1976. The social behavior of burying beetles. Scientific American 235: 84-90.

  • Peck, S. B. and Thomas M. C. 1998. A distributional checklist of the beetles (Coleoptera) of Florida. Arthropods of Florida and Neighboring Land Areas 16: i-viii, 1-180.

  • Perkins, P. D. 1983. North American insect status review. Contract 14-16-0009-79-052. Final report to Office of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior. 354 pp.

  • Raithel, C. 1991. American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Newton Corner, Massachusetts. 80 pp.

  • Raithel, C. J., Sr. 1990. Some non-random thoughts about Nicrophorus americanus. Unpublished document. 50 pp.

  • Ratcliffe, B. C. 1990. A survey to determine the occurrence of Nicrophorus americanus (Olivier) (the American burying beetle) in the Gerald Gentleman Station Rail Spur Project Area. Final Report submitted to NE Public Power District.

  • Ratcliffe, B. C. and M. L. Jameson. 1992. New Nebraska Occurrences of the Endangered American Burying Beetle (Coleoptera: Silphidae). The Coleopterists Bulletin. 46(4):421-25.



  • Schweitzer, D. F., and L. L. Master. 1987. Nicrophorus americanus, American burying beetle. Results of a global status survey and proposal to list as a threatened species. Report submitted to U. S. Fish and Wildife Service, Newton Corner, Massachussets.



  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1990b. American burying beetle recovery meeting. October 17, 1990. Newton Corner, Massachusetts.

  • Walker, T. J. 1957. Ecological studies of the arthropods associated with certain decaying materials in four habitats. Ecology 38:262-76.

Use Guidelines & Citation

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2019.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2019 NatureServe, 2511 Richmond (Jefferson Davis) Highway, Suite 930, Arlington, VA 22202, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.