Endangered Species

At one point in time the species Nicrophorus americanus existed in every state east of the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately today, about 90% of that population has disappeared. Currently there are only about six states in the US that still have populations of Nicrophorus americanus, which are Kansas, Rhode Island, Nebraska, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Arkansas. On August 14 1989, the US federal register declared Nicrophorus americanus as a critically endangered species (Ratcliffe, 1992). But what could have caused such a rapid decline?


Images courtesy of Jay Pruett, The Nature Conservancy

The theory behind such a rapid decrease in the Nicrophorus americanus population has to do with the destruction of their habitat. Habitat fragmentation has lead to more competition for carrion, habitat alternation, isolation from urbanization, and reduced physical maturity and strength due to genetic characteristics. Also, more artificial lighting decreases nocturnal populations (Ratcliffe, 1992). Pesticides have contributed in lowering the population of Nicrophorus americanus as well.

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