This is one of the most well studied of the burying beetles with over 1,000 citations found via Google Scholar. What had been considered Nicrophorus vespilloides in mid and eastern Canada and northeastern USA was determined by Sikes et al. in 2016 to be a separate, overlooked sister species of Nicrophorus vespilloides that had been named by Kirby in 1837.
This sister species, Nicrophorus hebes Kirby, is restricted to Sphagnum bogs and marshes,. Nicrophorus vespilloides occurs throughout the northern Palearctic, Alaska and northwestern Canada where it is found in open forest habitats. The restriction of its sister species N. hebes to bogs in the North America has been attributed to competition with its closely related congener, N. defodiens which in this area is found in forest habitats. N. hebes reproduces exclusively in bogs in North America and is never found in adjacent (<100 m or 330 ft) forested habitat in the Mer Bleue bog area near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
There are also a number of phoretic (hitch-hiking) mites that are associated with N. vespilloides. These include Pelzneria nr. crenulata, Macrocheles merderius, and Uroobovella nr. novasimilis and the largest mite Poecilochirus carabi. P. carabi is not attached by any physical means (such as a secreted anal stalk in the case of M. merderius) to N. vespilloides. When the males or females of N. vespilloides have finished breeding on a carcass the deutonymphs of P. carabi roam freely about the body of the beetles as they search for new carcasses to reproduce. It had been proposed that P. carabi deutonymphs, on arrival at a new carcass dismounted from the beetles and consumed fly eggs and larvae which would have competed for the beetle larvae for food. This relationship which benefited the beetles has been described as mutualistic. However, it has been shown that adults of P. carabi consume the eggs of N. vespilloides and that this has direct and negative effects on the reproduction of this beetle species.
N. vespilloides is also used as a model organism in the study of social immunity.
- Sikes, D.S; S. T. Trumbo; S.B. Peck (2016). "Cryptic diversity in the New World burying beetle fauna: Nicrophorus hebes Kirby, 1837; new status as a resurrected name (Coleoptera: Silphidae: Nicrophorinae)" (pdf). Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny. 74 (3): 299–309.
- Robert S. Anderson (1982). "Resource partitioning in the carrion beetle (Coleoptera: Silphidae) fauna of southern Ontario: ecological and evolutionary considerations". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 60 (6): 1314–1325. doi:10.1139/z82-178.
- Clifford W. Beninger & Stewart B. Peck (1992). "Temporal and spatial patterns of resource use among Nicrophorus in a Sphagnum bog and adjacent forest near Ottawa, Canada". The Canadian Entomologist. 124 (1): 79–86. doi:10.4039/Ent12479-1.
- Clifford W. Beninger (1994). "Phenology, reproductive biology and habitat associations of Nicrophorus Fab. (Coleoptera: Silphidae) of the Mer Bleue bog area (Ottawa, Canada)". Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada. 126 (169): 135–143. doi:10.4039/entm126169135-1.
- Clifford W. Beninger (1989). A study of the ecology and reproductive biology of the carrion beetle assemblage in the Mer Bleue Bog area with specific reference to the habitat associations of Nicrophorus vespilloides Herbst and N. defodiens Mannerheim (Coleoptera: Silphidae) (M.Sc. thesis). Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Carleton University.
- B. P. Springett (1968). "Aspects of the relationship between burying beetles, Necrophorus spp., and the mite, Poecilochirus necrophori Vitz". Journal of Animal Ecology. 37 (2): 417–424. JSTOR 2957.
- David Sloan Wilson (1983). "The effect of population structure on the evolution of mutualism: a field test involving burying beetles and their phoretic mites". The American Naturalist. 121 (6): 851–870. doi:10.1086/284108. JSTOR 2460857.
- David Sloan Wilson & W. G. Knollenberg (1987). "Adaptive indirect effects: the fitness of burying beetles with and without their phoretic mites". Evolutionary Ecology. 1 (2): 139–159. doi:10.1007/BF02067397.
- Clifford W. Beninger (1993). "Egg predation by Poecilochirus carabi (Mesostigmata: Parasitidae) and its effect on reproduction of Nicrophorus vespilloides (Coleoptera:Silphidae)". Environmental Entomology. 22 (4): 766–769.