COEXISTENCE ON A RESOURCE WHOSE ABUNDANCE VARIES: A TEST WITH DESERT RODENTS (PREDATION RISK, FORAGING BEHAVIOR, COMMUNITY STRUCTURE).
AuthorBROWN, JOEL STEVEN.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractVariability is a universal, but poorly understood, property of ecosystems. A common belief that environmental variability has a destabilizing effect on species coexistence is being challenged by a growing body of theoretical research; variance in resource abundances may actually promote species coexistence. Here, I develop three models which give ecological conditions for coexistence on a single resource. The first considers a resource whose abundance varies seasonally. Coexistence may be possible if there is a tradeoff between foraging efficiency and maintenance efficiency. The first species can forage profitably on low resource abundances while the second uses dormancy to "travel" inexpensively between temporal periods of high resource abundance. The second considers a resource whose abundance varies spatially. Coexistence may be possible if there is a tradeoff between foraging efficiency and the cost of travel. The first species forages patches to a lower giving up density while the second can inexpensively travel between patches with high resource abundances. The third considers an environment in which foraging costs change seasonally. Coexistence may be possible if there is a tradeoff between the cost of foraging during different seasons. The species which is the most efficient forager changes seasonally. Because coexisting species often exhibit little apparent diet or habitat separation, seed-eating desert rodents offer a promising community for testing the three aforementioned mechanisms of coexistence. In a community of four granivorous rodents, (Perognathus amplus, Dipodomys merriami, Spermophilus tereticaudus, and Ammospermophilus harrisii), I used artificial seed patches to measure species and habitat specific foraging efficiencies. The third mechanism of coexistence appears to explain the presence of P. amplus, D. merriami, and S. tereticaudus in the community. Each enjoys a season during which it is the most efficient forager. The second mechanism of coexistence explains the presence of A. harrisii in the community. This species preferred to forage a large number of widely spaced patches to a high giving up density rather than foraging a few patches to a low giving up density.
Degree ProgramEcology & Evolutionary Biology