Microhabitat segregation in two desert rodent species: the relation of prey availability to diet

Harris, J.H.

Oecologia 68(3): 417-421


ISSN/ISBN: 1432-1939
PMID: 28311789
DOI: 10.1007/bf01036749
Accession: 059967778

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I studied diet in relation to microhabitat use in two desert rodents:Microdipodops megacephalus, the dark kangaroo mouse, andPeromyscus maniculatus, the deer mouse. Contrary to expectation, both species ate primarily arthropods, which were most abundant near shrubs.Peromyscus used the area near shrubs, in contrast toMicrodipodops, which used open microhabitat. As a consequence, the diet ofPeromyscus was narrower and more concentrated on abundant prey types than that ofMicrodipodops. Thus microhabitat segregation, which is frequently reported for desert rodents, is related to a diet-breadth difference between these rodents. The use of open microhabitat and low density resources byMicrodipodops, when compared with the large bipedalDipodomys and small quadrupedalPerognatus, suggests that bipedal locomotion in desert rodents is related to use of open microhabitat, and that body size is related to density of food resources.