Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Difference in parenting in two species of burying beetle, Nicrophorus orbicollis and Nicrophorus vespilloides

Citation

Benowitz, Kyle M.; McKinney, Elizabeth C.; Moore, Allen J. (2017), Data from: Difference in parenting in two species of burying beetle, Nicrophorus orbicollis and Nicrophorus vespilloides, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.25rm2

Abstract

Burying beetles (Nicrophorus) are model parents among insects, with all studied species known to regurgitate flesh from vertebrate carcasses to their offspring. However, most studies focus on a very few species, yet the interpretation of the function and importance of care is typically generalized to all burying beetles. Here we characterize subtle variation within and between individuals and sexes, and how this variation differs between two species of burying beetle. We find that Nicrophorus orbicollis exhibits low variance, with a normal distribution of parental care provided during peak care periods. In N. vespilloides, however, the distribution is more uniform as values of care are spread across the possible phenotypic spectrum. This suggests that there is stabilizing selection on care in N. orbicollis, but relaxed or disruptive selection in N. vespilloides. Although repeatability was similar between both species, transitions from other care behaviors into feeding were more common in N. orbicollis than N. vespilloides. Thus, while parenting is coarsely similar across the genus, variation in its expression should not be extrapolated to all Nicrophorus. We suggest that subtle variation both within and among species merits greater attention, and could inform us about the factors that lead to different distributions of care.

Usage Notes