Giving-up densities of foraging gerbils: the effect of interspecific competition on patch use Academic Article uri icon


  • We studied the effect of a dominant species, Gerbillus pyramidum (Egyptian sand gerbil), on the patch use of its subordinate competitor, G. andersoni allenbyi (Allenby's gerbil), to better understand interspecific competition between the two species. We used manipulated resource patches (seed trays) covered with cages with two adjustable species-specific gates (either opened or closed to the bigger-dominant species, but always opened to the subordinate one). We recorded species tracks around and on the seed trays and giving-up densities (GUDs) of seeds in the trays after each night of foraging. G. a. allenbyi depleted seed patches to a lower level whenever G. pyramidum was given the opportunity to forage on the seed trays (i.e., present on the grid). This result held regardless of whether G. pyramidum was actually present at a particular station. We suggest that competition from G. pyramidum occurs both directly by interference, in which G. a. allenbyi is forced to be active in the late part of the night, and indirectly by exploitation via resource depletion by G. pyramidum in the early part of the night. The results suggest that interspecific competition from G. pyramidum reduces seed availability and the richness of the environment for G. a. allenbyi enough to affect the marginal value of energy for G. a. allenbyi individuals and cause them to experience lower costs of predation and manifest lower GUDs.

publication date

  • January 1, 2003