Burying beetles (Silphidae: Nicrophorus Fabricius, 1775) are known for their biparental care and monopolization of small vertebrate carcasses in subterranean crypts. They have been the focus of intense behavioral ecological research since the 1980s and the New World fauna was taxonomically revised in the 1980s. Here, with new molecular, ecological, reproductive incompatability, and morphological data, we report the discovery that N. vespilloides in most of North America, except Alaska + Yukon + Northwest Territories, is not conspecific with Old World N. vespilloides. DNA barcode data split this species into two BINs, each shows different habitat preferences, most larvae from hybrid crosses fail to reach four days of age, and diagnostic characters were found on the epipleuron and metepisternum that help to separate the species. The oldest available name for this other set of North American populations is Nicrophorus hebes Kirby, 1837, which we now treat as valid (new status). This study brings the New World total to 22 species for the genus, and given the rarity of N. hebes, and its tight association with wetlands, justifies further investigation into its conservation status.

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Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny
Department of Biology

Sikes, D.S. (Derek S.), Trumbo, S.T. (Stephen T.), & Peck, S. (2016). Cryptic diversity in the New World burying beetle fauna: Nicrophorus hebes Kirby; new status as a resurrected name (Coleoptera: Silphidae: Nicrophorinae). Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny, 74(3), 299–309.