Nutrition, hormones and the allocation of physiological resources are intricately related. To investigate these inter-relationships in female burying beetles (Nicrophorus spp.), we examined the effect of diet quality on juvenile hormone (JH) levels and reproduction, and the effect of JH supplementation on reproduction and resistance to starvation. Nicrophorus orbicollis adult females fed a less preferred mealworm larvae diet gained less body mass, had smaller ovaries and had lower titers of JH in their hemolymph than females fed a preferred blowfly diet. When presented a carcass for breeding, females on a less preferred diet oviposited 33% fewer eggs, and eggs were of 18% less mass. Females on the less preferred diet also took longer to begin oviposition as indicated indirectly by the time when their eggs hatched. To investigate the effects of JH, independent of nutrition, JH was topically applied to single and paired females of Nicrophorus tomentosus. When presented a carcass, JH-treated paired females oviposited more eggs (28% - year 1, 44% - year 2) than control females, and also showed a trend toward faster oviposition. JH supplementation had a greater effect on single females. JH treatment increased the proportion of single females attempting reproduction (at least one viable larva), increased the number of eggs (69% - year 1, 123% - year 2), and increased the proportion of females ovipositing early. In separate experiments, treatment with JH or a JH analog negatively affected resistance to starvation in three species. Treatment with JH reduced starvation survival by 10.3% days in N. tomentosus females. Treatment with the JH analog methoprene reduced starvation survival 17.8% in N. orbicollis females and by 18% in Ptomascopus morio females. These results suggest that JH has positive and negative effects on different components of life history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-391
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of insect physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Burying beetle
  • Juvenile hormone
  • Life history
  • Nicrophorus
  • Nutrition
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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