Foraging behaviour in East Asian desert rodents and its implications on coexistence Academic Article uri icon


  • We studied the foraging behaviour of two sympatric rodents (Meriones meridianus and Dipus sagitta) in the Gobi Desert, Northwestern China. The role of the foraging behaviour in promoting species coexistence was also examined. We used giving-up densities (GUDs) in artificial food patches to measure the patch use of rodents and video trapping to directly record the foraging behaviour, vigilance, and interspecific interactions. Three potential mechanisms of coexistence were evaluated (1) microhabitat partitioning; (2) spatial heterogeneity of resource abundance with a tradeoff in foraging efficiency vs. locomotion; and (3) temporal partitioning on a daily scale. Compared to M. meridianus, D. sagitta generally possessed lower GUDs, spent more time on patches, and conducted more visits per tray per capita, regardless of microhabitat. However, M. meridianus possessed advantages in average harvesting rates and direct interference against D. sagitta. Our results only partly support the third mechanism listed abov...

publication date

  • January 1, 2016