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First-ever release of endangered burying beetles in Missouri
Date:4/24/2012

distinguish captive-bred and wild beetles. The beetle release process involves digging holes, or plugs, at specially selected sites, placing the carcass of a quail and a pair of notched beetles in each cavity and replacing the plugs. This process simulates a natural underground setting for the beetles' life cycle. The plug sites will then be monitored for signs of breeding activity by checking for larvae, and later, new adult beetles.

What Happened to the Beetles?

"The beetle was last seen in Missouri in the mid-1970s, and for the last decade, the Zoo has been monitoring for existing American burying beetleswith none found," said Saint Louis Zoo Zoological Manager for Invertebrates Bob Merz. Merz is also director of the American burying beetle center that is part of the Zoo's 12-center WildCare Institute dedicated to saving animals across the globe and at home.

Surveying for the endangered beetles has been the focus of the Zoo's American burying beetle conservation efforts for the past several years.

"Our contribution to reintroduction efforts by returning the beetle to parts of its former range is the beginning of the recovery of this beautiful beetle," says Merz.

The beetles' historic range included 35 states and three Canadian provinces, but at the time of its listing as endangered in 1989, only one beetle population was knownone in Rhode Island. Later, populations were found in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, South Dakota and Kansasbut not in Missouri.

The first reintroduction for this species was in Penikese Island, Mass., in 1990; a reintroduction followed in Nantucket Island in 1994.

Since 1998, there have been ongoing efforts to reintroduce a population in Ohio.

The reasons for the beetle's decline are still unknown. Scientists have speculated that the loss may be due to pesticides, habitat loss and destruction, even light pollution.

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Contact: Christy Childs
childs@stlzoo.org
314-646-4639
Saint Louis Zoo
Source:Eurekalert

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