We investigated the interaction of social and nonsocial stimuli on juvenile hormone (JH) titer in male burying beetles (Nicrophorus orbicollis). The initial JH response to discovery of a carcass was substantial (10-15-fold increase over controls) and rapid (<1 h), and occurred whether or not a female was present. By 3 h after discovery, JH titers were declining, the decline being more pronounced when a female was not present. We also tested the effect of larval stimulation on JH titer in care-giving males by removing a male's brood and replacing it with a brood of first or third instar larvae. Males initially providing care for begging first instar larvae continued to maintain high titers of JH when the replacement broods were first but not third instars. Males caring for third instar larvae (normally low JH titers) maintained low levels of JH regardless of the developmental stage of the replacement brood. This suggests that once males begin to care for nutritionally independent third instar larvae, JH titers remain low regardless of subsequent larval stimulation. Burying beetles are socially and hormonally complex organisms in which stimuli from a breeding resource, mating partners, rivals and young interact to alter the JH profile of breeding adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-635
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of insect physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Burying beetle
  • JH
  • Metabolic rate
  • Nicrophorus
  • Parental care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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