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Surface Chemicals Inform about Sex and Breeding Status in the Biparental Burying Beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides

Title data

Steiger, Sandra ; Whitlow, Sonia ; Peschke, Klaus ; Müller, Josef K.:
Surface Chemicals Inform about Sex and Breeding Status in the Biparental Burying Beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides.
In: Ethology. Vol. 115 (2009) Issue 2 . - pp. 178-185.
ISSN 1439-0310
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0310.2008.01600.x

Abstract in another language

The multicomponent nature of chemical cues and signals are not very well understood. One reason for the often found complexity of chemical blends might be that they provide multiple messages. Burying beetles which use vertebrate carcasses as food for their larvae and defend these carcasses against inter‐ and intraspecific competitors are able to recognise the sex and breeding status of conspecifics. Studies have shown that the chemical composition of cuticular lipids is correlated with sex and breeding status, but there is no definitive evidence that these chemicals function in recognition. In the present study, we performed behavioural bioassays to directly asses the role of chemical cues in the recognition system of the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. After finding a carcass, females were more tolerant of dead males than of females. The behaviour was reversed when a solvent extract from the opposite sex was applied. An earlier experiment had shown that females breeding on a carcass treat non‐breeding males more aggressively than breeding ones. In the present study, we could trigger the same dichotomous behaviours by presenting a single elytron from a breeding and a non‐breeding beetle. In an additional experiment, females tolerated the elytra of non‐breeding beetles if we had first applied an extract from a breeding beetle to these elytra. Our study is the first behavioural proof that female burying beetles obtain multiple information from chemical cues.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: BAYCEER147394
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology II - Evolutionary Animal Ecology > Chair Animal Ecology II - Evolutionary Animal Ecology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sandra Steiger
Research Institutions
Research Institutions > Research Centres
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 500 Science
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2019 12:29
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2019 12:29
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/48402