The American burying beetle, or ABB, is a very large and spectacularly colored burying beetle species once found in nearly all eastern states of the USA and two adjoining provinces of Canada. Listed as critically endangered, it now occupies only about 10% of its former range and probably much less than 1% of its originally occupied habitat. ABB seem to be habitat generalists, occurring in both forested and grassland areas, but require soils suitable for digging. Like other burying beetles, pairs of adults bury carcasses of small animals (preferably 50-200 g body mass for this species), mate nearby, and use the carrion to feed their larvae in a subterranean chamber. Adults also feed on carrion of any size. The reasons for the species' dramatic decline are not entirely certain, but evidence points increasingly to a cascade of changes in vertebrate communities resulting from habitat fragmentation and other human-caused disturbances. Loss of the largest mammal predators has resulted in increases of smaller mammal predator-scavengers that are more likely to compete with ABB for carcasses of still smaller mammals or birds.
- Sikes, D. S. & C. J. Raithel. 2002. A review of hypotheses of decline of the endangered American burying beetle (Silphidae: Nicrophorus americanus Olivier). Journal of Insect Conservation 6(2): 103-113
- U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1991. American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) recovery plan. [by C. Raithel] Newton Corner, Massachusetts. 80 pp.