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Effect of tunnel inclination on digging energetics in the tuco-tuco, Ctenomys talarum (Rodentia: Ctenomyidae)



Effect of tunnel inclination on digging energetics in the tuco-tuco, Ctenomys talarum (Rodentia: Ctenomyidae)



Die Naturwissenschaften 94(2): 100-106



Burrows play an important role for many species, providing them with shelter and access to food resources. For subterranean rodents, living underground imposes constraints on morphology and physiology. The convergence in burrow architecture among subterranean rodents has been related to the energy demands imposed by the cost of constructing an entire system. The low frequency of tunnels with downward angles steeper than 40 degrees appears to be a common feature in burrow design. In the subterranean habitat, movements through the soil are expensive and gravity can exert important restrictions on digging energetics when individuals push out the soil removed in steeper digging angles. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of digging angle on digging energetics in Ctenomys talarum. The mass of the removed soil and burrowing speed were similar while digging metabolic rate and net cost of transport were higher in individuals digging in tunnels with angles >40 degrees than in those digging tunnels with angles <40 degrees . The cost of constructing a burrow in the horizontal plane differed by 20% from others in which the natural representation of tunnels >40 degrees was considered. Even given that tunnels >40 degrees represented only 6% of the total burrow length, burrow architecture appears to be constrained by the high energetic cost of constructing in steeper angles.

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Accession: 012966260

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 17021913

DOI: 10.1007/s00114-006-0171-5


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