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1 July 2009 Attributes of Rock Crevices Selected by Allegheny and Eastern Woodrats in the Zone of Contact in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina
C. Reed Rossell, Stacey H. Roach, Irene M. Rossell, Chris McGrath
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Abstract

We investigated the attributes of rock crevices selected by Allegheny (Neotoma magister) and eastern woodrats (N. floridana haematoreia) in their zone of contact in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. In North Carolina, N. magister and N. f. haematoreia both occur in rocky habitats above 300 m, and are listed as species of special concern. We studied 14 active sites (N. magister: n  =  9; N. f. haematoreia: n  =  5) where woodrats had been captured 1 y prior to our study and identified to species using the mitochondrial DNA D-loop analysis. At each site, we measured the attributes of 10 crevices used by woodrats and 10 corresponding random crevices located < 15 m from each used crevice. Neotoma magister and N. f. haematoreia selected crevices with larger dimensions (height, width and depth) and more internal fissures (openings >5 cm in diameter) than those available in the surrounding environments. All crevices used by N. magister (n  =  90) and N. f. haematoreia (n  =  50) were dry. Neotoma magister were more specialized than N. f. haematoreia, as they selected crevices that were south-facing. These results suggest that both N. magister and N. f. haematoreia are habitat specialists in the southern Appalachians, preferring crevices with larger dimensions and more internal fissures to enhance their protection against severe weather and predators. The preference for south-facing crevices by N. magister suggests that they may be better adapted at surviving colder climatic conditions, thus enabling them to inhabit higher elevations in the mountains. Based on these specialized habitat preferences, we suggest that suitable rock crevices may be a limiting factor to both species in the southern Appalachians. In addition, the similarity in attributes of rock crevices selected by these species suggests that habitat is not a factor that will prevent hybridization between these species where they co-occur in the mountains of North Carolina.

C. Reed Rossell, Stacey H. Roach, Irene M. Rossell, and Chris McGrath "Attributes of Rock Crevices Selected by Allegheny and Eastern Woodrats in the Zone of Contact in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina," The American Midland Naturalist 162(1), 200-206, (1 July 2009). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-162.1.200
Received: 29 January 2008; Accepted: 1 April 2008; Published: 1 July 2009
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