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Dispersal, facilitation, and burrow architecture in banner-tailed kangaroo rats


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10872

Dispersal, facilitation, and burrow architecture in banner-tailed kangaroo rats

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Title: Dispersal, facilitation, and burrow architecture in banner-tailed kangaroo rats
Author: Edelman, Andrew
Advisor(s): Kodric-Brown, Astrid
Committee Member(s): Brown, James
Smith, Felisa
Roemer, Gary
Department: University of New Mexico. Biology Dept.
Subject: ecology
LC Subject(s): Dipodomys spectabilis--Habitat
Dipodomys spectabilis--Behavior.
Dipodomys spectabilis--Ecology--New Mexico--Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge
Harvester ants--Ecology--New Mexico--Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: The largest and most dominant kangaroo rat species in the Chihuahuan Desert is the banner-tailed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys spectabilis). This keystone species constructs mounds containing a complex burrow system around which their ecosystem engineering activities are centered. I studied a population of banner-tailed kangaroo rats at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico from 2005-2009. Specifically, I examined how banner-tailed kangaroo rats: 1) modify their mounds in response to seasonal conditions; 2) spatially affect harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex rugosus) through ecosystem engineering activities; and 3) differ in timing of natal dispersal between sexes. I used mark-recapture, genetic, experimental, and spatially-explicit methods to address these areas of interest. I observed that kangaroo rats remodeled their mounds seasonally in relation to changes in predation risk, seed spoilage risk, and metabolic costs. My results documented an additional keystone effect of banner-tailed kangaroo rats in the Chihuahuan Desert, a facilitatory impact on the spatial structure and dynamics of harvester ant colonies. I also experimentally determined that physiological cues influence timing of natal dispersal in males and females differently.
Graduation Date: May 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10872

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