Divergent behavior amid convergent evolution: A case of four desert rodents learning to respond to known and novel vipers.
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Tumamoc People & Habitat, Dept Ecol & Evolutionary Biol
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherPUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
CitationBleicher SS, Kotler BP, Shalev O, Dixon A, Embar K, Brown JS (2018) Divergent behavior amid convergent evolution: A case of four desert rodents learning to respond to known and novel vipers. PLoS ONE 13(8): e0200672. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200672
Rights© 2018 Bleicher et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
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AbstractDesert communities world-wide are used as natural laboratories for the study of convergent evolution, yet inferences drawn from such studies are necessarily indirect. Here, we brought desert organisms together (rodents and vipers) from two deserts (Mojave and Negev). Both predators and prey in the Mojave have adaptations that give them competitive advantage compared to their middle-eastern counterparts. Heteromyid rodents of the Mojave, kangaroo rats and pocket mice, have fur-lined cheek pouches that allow them to carry larger loads of seeds under predation risk compared to gerbilline rodents of the Negev Deserts. Sidewinder rattlesnakes have heat-sensing pits, allowing them to hunt better on moonless nights when their Negev sidewinding counterpart, the Saharan horned vipers, are visually impaired. In behavioral-assays, we used giving-up density (GUD) to gauge how each species of rodent perceived risk posed by known and novel snakes. We repeated this for the same set of rodents at first encounter and again two months later following intensive "natural" exposure to both snake species. Pre-exposure, all rodents identified their evolutionarily familiar snake as a greater risk than the novel one. However, post-exposure all identified the heat-sensing sidewinder rattlesnake as a greater risk. The heteromyids were more likely to avoid encounters with, and discern the behavioral difference among, snakes than their gerbilline counterparts.
NoteOpen access journal.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsUS-Israel Binational Science Foundation [BSF-2008163]; US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) [BSF-2008163]; Ben Gurion University of the Negev Ethics in Animal Research Committee [IL-73-11-2009]