Endangered Beetle Thrives at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

Recently, scientists from around the country met at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to discuss the latest research with regard to the American Burying Beetle, an officially-listed Endangered Species in the U.S.

Tallgrass Prairie Preserve | May 31, 2012

This attractive insect was once found in most of the eastern half of the United States, but is now only found in a narrow swath from northeast Texas, through eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, along with an island off Rhode Island. One of the largest populations known has been found at the The Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve—one reason the meeting was held there.

Burying Beetle at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

The scientists discussed what had been learned about the biology and ecology of the American Burying Beetle in the last few years and how that information can be used to guide conservation of the species and its habitat. Much research is conducted each year on The Nature Conservancy’s preserve and the results show that the beetle needs periodic fire in its habitat, but not too much grazing. Habitat fragmentation, lights and vibrations from machinery might all contribute to population declines.


American Burying Beetles get their name from the fact that they find by scent and then bury carcasses of small dead animals such as birds and mammals. A pair stays with the carcass underground and cares for their young, which hatch from eggs that have been laid near the carcass. They are active in the summer, but hibernate underground during the winter. There are other types of burying beetles, which are not endangered, in both the U.S., including Oklahoma, and around the world. 

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

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