The effect of grazing on winter survival of midday gerbil ( Meriones meridianus ) of different genders

Yang, S-Wen.; Yuan, S.; Wu, X-Dong.; Zhang, R.; Yue, X-Xian.; Ji, Y.; Li, L-Lin.; Li, X.; Fu, H-Ping.

Ecology and Evolution 10(21): 12395-12406

2020


ISSN/ISBN: 2045-7758
PMID: 33537120
DOI: 10.1002/ece3.6870
Accession: 071058346

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Abstract
The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of grazing on midday gerbil (Meriones meridianus) population characteristics and survival of animals of different genders. The experiment used a randomized complete block design and was conducted in Alxa Left Banner, Inner Mongolia, China, in 2002 (The agricultural reclamation plots set up in 1994). From April 2006 to October 2010, midday gerbils were live-trapped in 3 light grazing plots, 3 overgrazed plots, and 3 grazing exclusion plots. The quantity of vegetation was investigated in the two different grazing intensity areas and grazing exclusion area to determine the relationship between gerbils and plant food availability. The results suggested that there was higher gerbil density, individual body mass, and daily body mass growth rate in the grazing exclusion sites than the other sites across the whole year. Females had higher survival in grazing exclusion areas than in other treatments, but the males' survival showed the opposite pattern. Our results indicated that grazing negatively influenced the midday gerbil population by reducing food availability. Grazing influenced the survival rates of male midday gerbils positively, but had negative effects on females. The reason for gendered differences in survival rates of midday gerbils requires further investigation.