Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Deborah A. Wa)ler

Committee Member

John R. Holsinger

Committee Member

Holly D. Gaff

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 S3416 2013


This study investigated reproductive behaviours of the carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) of southeastern Virginia. Carrion beetles have been known to have ranges of carcass masses used for reproductive behaviors. In this study, pitfall traps were baited with 25g, 50g, or 75g of a cat food/mackerel mixture and left to decay and attract beetles for one week to investigate if any Silphidae species prefer a single mass over another. This study investigated the carcass bait mass that is used on the subfamily and species level, and how the beetle mass plays a role in preference. The study also investigated the effect seasonal changes have on the mass selection of the beetles. Previous studies have been done in southeastern Virginia with a couple traps and this study means to find additional species and distributions not previously found in others studies of the area with a different trap type.

This study did not find any additional species of carrion beetle than has been found previously in the area. The subfamily Silphidae chose smaller baits then the larger Nicrophorinae and that all species in a subfamily preferred the same mass bait. The larger individual of a species choose larger mass baits on average. The beetles did not return to the bait site previously used, and are expected to have traveled out of the area. Seasonal changes did not show a change in bait mass preference.


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