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Medium-sized kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spp. Gray) function as keystone species in the dynamics of desert bunchgrasses. We tested the hypothesis that kangaroo rat graminivory leads to reduced grass growth and inflorescence production, and that kangaroo rat grass consumption reflects their preferences for open microhabitats. We excluded kangaroo rats from grasses, and measured tiller loss, leaf and tiller growth and inflorescence production. We recorded the extent of tiller loss in grasses varying in tussock size or the extent of surrounding cover. Consumption of tillers by kangaroo rats was extensive, peaking in late summer. Grasses protected from kangaroo rat graminivory showed elevated leaf and tiller growth and...
We monitored movements of small mammals resident on floodplains susceptible to spring floods to assess whether and how these animals respond to habitat inundation. The 2 floodplains were associated with 6th order river segments in a semiarid landscape; each was predictably inundated each year as snowmelt progressed in headwater areas of the Rocky Mountains. Data from live trapping, radiotelemetry, and microtopographic surveys indicated that Peromyscus maniculatus, Microtus montanus, and Dipodomys ordii showed different responses to inundation, but all reflected a common tendency to remain in the original home range until "forced" to leave. The reluctance of Dipodomys ordii to abandon the home burrow often resulted...
In northwestern Colorado, flow regulation on the Green River has created a transitional plant community that features encroachment by upland vegetation into cottonwood (Populus fremontii)-dominated, riparian forest on topographically high floodplain sites and reduced cottonwood regeneration on low floodplain sites. To assess how these changes might have affected small mammal distributions, in 1994 and 1995 we live-trapped during periods surrounding spring flooding at 3 sites: above and below the confluence of the regulated Green River and at the ecologically similar, but unregulated, Yampa River (reference site). More species were captured at the most regulated site along the Green River above its confluence, with...