Nebraska Game and Parks Commission


Date of this Version



American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) A Species Conservation Assessment for The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project. Prepared by Melissa J. Panella, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Wildlife Division, March 2013


The primary goal in development of at-risk species conservation assessments is to compile biological and ecological information that may assist conservation practitioners in making decisions regarding the conservation of species of interest. The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project recognizes the American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) as a Tier I at-risk species of high conservation priority. Indeed, the American Burying Beetle (ABB) is a species of conservation need throughout its range. Here, I provide some general management recommendations regarding ABB; however, conservation practitioners will need to use professional judgment for specific management decisions based on objectives, location, and site-specific conditions. This resource provides available knowledge of ABB that may aid in the decision-making process or in identifying research needs for the benefit of the species. Species conservation assessments will be updated as new scientific information becomes available. The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project focuses efforts in the state’s Biologically Unique Landscapes (BULs), but it is recommended that whenever possible, practitioners make considerations for a species throughout its range in order to increase the outcome of successful conservation efforts.

Criteria for selection as Tier I State and federally listed as Endangered (July 1989), G2 (Federal Register 54:29652-29655)

Trends since 2005 in NE Fluctuating with drought

Range in NE North-central and southwest-central portion of the state

Habitat Wet meadows in Sandhills, open woodlands, loess canyons

Threats Eastern redcedar encroachment, drought, land development, light pollution, scavengers;

Climate Change Vulnerability Index: Highly vulnerable

Research/Inventory Determine specific habitat use; effects of land management practices; population sizes; conduct long-term monitoring of individual populations

Biologically Unique Landscapes Cherry County Wetlands, Elkhorn River Headwaters, Keya Paha, Loess Canyons, Middle Niobrara, Upper Loup Rivers and Tributaries, Verdigris-Bazile

ABB was state and federally listed as an endangered species on 13 July 1989, Federal Register 54:29652-29655 (USFWS 2012). The IUCN Red List Category is CR - Critically Endangered (NatureServe 2009). The state Heritage status rank of ABB is S1, U.S. national status is N2N3, and global conservation rank is G2G3 Imperiled (NatureServe 2009). The distribution of ABB in the state is limited. The Nebraska Natural Legacy Science Team set a goal of maintaining 10 populations in the state, assuming there is little movement between populations and fates of populations are not correlated. Moderate viability (40% chance of survival) of each population gives >99% probability of at least one population surviving 100 years (Morris et al. 1999).