Recent work with least chipmunks, Neotamias minimus, has identified a novel seed preparation process. N. minimus begins by hulling seeds and then creating a thick saliva-coated cluster that hardens once expelled. Scattered and undefended, these “bolus” caches are at risk for theft. However, the behaviors involved in the creation of a bolus may confer protection against such pilferage. In a series of laboratory experiments with sunflower seeds, we found that both the hulling and saliva-clumping processes significantly reduced pilfering of these caches by conspecifics and a competitor, Tamias striatus, under 3 cache depth conditions.
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Vol. 95 • No. 2