Foraging behavior of the midday gerbil (Meriones meridianus) : combined effects of distance and microhabitat
Shuai, L.; Song, Y.-L.
Behavioural Processes 86(1): 143-148
ISSN/ISBN: 1872-8308 PMID: 21070841 DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2010.11.001
We used the giving-up density (GUD) method and direct observation to study the combined effects of travel distance and microhabitat on foraging behavior of the midday gerbil (Meriones meridianus), which often acts as a central place forager. We provided animals with artificial seed trays in which dry and unhusked pumpkin seeds were mixed with fine sand. Gerbils practiced an eat-and-carry strategy in patches of bush microhabitat that were far from central places (BF patches), and tended to carry all seeds back in the other three treatments. Resource protection, predation risk avoidance and the balance between future and present value of food items may contribute to the eat-and-carry strategy. When distance was held constant, GUDs in open patches were higher than in bush patches, which was consistent with most studies. When microhabitat was held constant, GUDs in nearer patches were normally lower than in farther patches. In most cases, gerbils preferred to carry more seeds back rather than consume them immediately. We concluded that this tendency was due to the gerbils balancing the factors of future value and present value, and individual fitness and inclusive fitness.