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15 October 2010 Coexisting desert rodents differ in selection of microhabitats for cache placement and pilferage
Maryke J. Swartz, Stephen H. Jenkins, Ned A. Dochtermann
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Abstract

Seed caching by desert rodents in the family Heteromyidae is an important behavioral adaptation for animals living in environments with limited and unpredictable food resources. Heteromyids cache seeds throughout their home ranges, either concentrated in 1 location (larder hoard) or in multiple, small seed piles (scatter hoards). To minimize cache pilferage by other rodents, coexisting species may scatter hoard seeds in distinct microhabitats. We examined interspecific differences in caching and pilfering behaviors of 3 coexisting heteromyid rodents, Merriam's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami), the pale kangaroo mouse (Microdipodops pallidus), and the little pocket mouse (Perognathus longimembris), to determine if caching microhabitat affects likelihood of pilferage. In outdoor enclosures we tracked cache placement and measured pilferage of artificial caches using radiolabeled Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides) seeds. M. pallidus and P. longimembris placed seed caches mostly under shrubs, whereas D. merriami placed caches predominately in open microhabitat. However, D. merriami showed a significant preference for pilfering caches under shrubs, whereas P. longimembris did not show a significant preference for pilfering caches in either open or undershrub microhabitats. The 2 species pilfered similar numbers of caches. Coexisting heteroymid rodent species may contribute to spatial heterogeneity of available resources by caching in different microhabitats, thereby reducing but not eliminating cache pilferage by other species.

Maryke J. Swartz, Stephen H. Jenkins, and Ned A. Dochtermann "Coexisting desert rodents differ in selection of microhabitats for cache placement and pilferage," Journal of Mammalogy 91(5), 1261-1268, (15 October 2010). https://doi.org/10.1644/09-MAMM-A-280.1
Received: 31 August 2009; Accepted: 1 April 2010; Published: 15 October 2010
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KEYWORDS
cache placement
coexistence
Dipodomys merriami
Heteromyidae
Microdipodops pallidus
microhabitat
Perognathus longimembris
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