n African Zoology - A test of five mechanisms of species coexistence between rodents in a southern African savanna

Volume 40, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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The operation of five different mechanisms of species coexistence in a community of rodents was examined in a semi-arid Kalahari savanna in southern Africa. The two most common species were <I>Tatera leucogaster&lt;/I&gt; (bushveld gerbil) and <I>Rhabdomys pumilio&lt;/I&gt; (striped mouse). The mechanisms examined were habitat selection in a mosaic, microhabitat selection, spatial variation in resource abundance, temporal variation in resource abundance, and diet partitioning. The rodents were censused using mark-recapture live trapping, activity measured using sand-tracking, and foraging efficiency measured using giving-up densities (GUDs; the amount of food remaining following patch exploitation) in experimental food patches. There was no support for any of the five mechanisms: <I>T. leucogaster&lt;/I&gt; tended to be a more efficient and mobile forager than <I>R. pumilio</I>. It is suggested that coexistence maybe based on a sixth mechanism, seasonal variation in resource abundance and a tradeoff of maintenance efficiency versus foraging efficiency. Further, it appears that <I>R. pumilio&lt;/I&gt; is more efficient at maintaining harvest potential, not by maintaining high consumer biomass, but rather by having a high intrinsic rate of increase.

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