Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (4): 561-563, 2011 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2011.072

Cooperative defence of brood in Nicrophorus quadripunctatus (Coleoptera: Silphidae)

Seizi SUZUKI
Department of Ecology & Systematics, Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-8589, Japan;

A positive correlation between the parental effort of a male and female should promote stable biparental care. In order to prevent infanticide male and female burying beetles are said to guard against intruders cooperatively and the presence of a male partner is said to increase the probability of successful defence. However, this hypothesis is supported only by indirect evidence. In this study this hypothesis is tested by direct observation. Whether the intruder was male or female, contests between the same and the opposite sex occurred, although there were few contests between resident females and intruding males. In addition, resident pairs tended to win irrespective of the sex of the intruder, although it is reported that among burying beetles large beetles usually win intra-sexual contests. In the presence of a partner, a small resident can defend a carcass against a large con-sexual intruder. These results suggest that by means of biparental cooperation burying beetles can repel stronger intruders and supports the hypothesis that the threat of infanticide is the primary explanation for extended biparental care in these beetles.

Keywords: Coleoptera, Silphidae, Nicrophorus quadripunctatus, biparental care, defence of carcass

Received: June 10, 2011; Accepted: July 24, 2011; Published: October 3, 2011

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