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Habitat use of co-occurring burying beetles (genus Nicrophorus) in southeastern Ontario, Canada

Cite this dataset

Burke, Kevin; Wettlaufer, Jillian; Beresford, David; Martin, Paul (2020). Habitat use of co-occurring burying beetles (genus Nicrophorus) in southeastern Ontario, Canada [Dataset]. Dryad.


The coexistence of closely related species plays an important role in shaping local diversity. However, competition for shared resources can limit the ability of species to coexist. Many species avoid the costs of coexistence by diverging in habitat use, known as habitat partitioning. We examine patterns of habitat use in seven co-occurring species of burying beetles (genus Nicrophorus Fabricius, 1775), testing the hypothesis that Nicrophorus species partition resources by occupying distinct habitats. We surveyed Nicrophorus abundance and 54 habitat characteristics at 100 random sites spanning an environmentally diverse region of southeastern Ontario, Canada. We found that three species occupied distinct habitat types consistent with habitat partitioning. Specifically, Nicrophorus pustulatus Herschel, 1807, Nicrophorus hebes Kirby, 1837, and Nicrophorus marginatus Fabricius, 1801 appear to be specialists for forest canopy, wetlands, and open fields, respectively. In contrast, Nicrophorus orbicollis Say, 1825, Nicrophorus sayi Laporte, 1840, and Nicrophorus tomentosus Weber, 1801 appear to be generalists with wide breadths of habitat use. We were unable to identify the habitat associations of Nicrophorus defodiens Mannerheim, 1846. Our findings are consistent with habitat acting as an important resource axis along which some Nicrophorus species partition; however, divergence along other resource axes (e.g., temporal partitioning) also appears important for Nicrophorus coexistence.


Please see manuscript for details.

Usage notes

Please see ReadMe file for description of data.


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Award: 355519-2013 and 04452-2018