Cattle grazing has been shown to alter various features of desert communities that may impact microhabitats required by various species of desert rodents, with unknown implications for desert rodent communities. We conducted a series of studies at heavily and lightly grazed sites to investigate effects of cattle grazing on desert rodent relative abundances, home range sizes and microhabitat use in salt desert shrub communities of the western Great Basin Desert. Monitoring of rodent populations with repeated live trapping showed that different levels of grazing were associated with differences in relative abundances of some species of rodents. Specifically, Dipodomys merriami was significantly more abundant in heavily grazed areas, and Perognathus longimembris was significantly more abundant in lightly grazed areas. Our studies showed that cattle, by preferentially feeding on certain plants, can create conditions that are more suitable for some species of rodents, while reducing important microhabitat for other species.
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Vol. 141 • No. 1