Intercontinental-wide consequences of compromise-breaking adaptations: the case of desert rodents Academic Article uri icon


  • Desert rodent assemblages from around the world provide convergent, but independent crucibles for testing theory and deducing general ecological principles. The heteromyid rodents of North America and the gerbils of the Middle East and their predators provide such an example. Both sets of rodents face predation from owls and vipers, but the North American species possess unique traits that may represent macroevolutionary breakthroughs: rattlesnakes have infra-red sensitive sensory pits, and heteromyids have cheek pouches. To test their significance, we brought together two gerbils (Middle East), two heteromyid rodents (a kangaroo rat and a pocket mouse; North America) in a common setting (a vivarium in the Negev Desert), and quantified the “opinions” of the rodents towards the North American sidewinder rattlesnake and the Middle Eastern Saharan horned viper and the foraging behavior of each in the face of these snake predators plus owl predators. Gerbils are fairly evenly matched in their anti-predator ab...

publication date

  • January 1, 2016