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The Role of Site, Habitat, Seasonality and Competition in Determining the Nightly Activity Patterns of Psammophilic Gerbils in a Centrifugally Organized Community

Gideon Wasserberg, Burt P. Kotler, Zvika Abramsky and Esa Ranta
Oikos
Vol. 112, No. 3 (Mar., 2006), pp. 573-579
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3548723
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Role of Site, Habitat, Seasonality and Competition in Determining the Nightly Activity Patterns of Psammophilic Gerbils in a Centrifugally Organized Community
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Abstract

Major ecological forces affecting diel activity patterns include predation, competition, resource dynamics, and ambient conditions. In this work we studied if, how, and why the nocturnal activity patterns of two gerbil species differed with respect to site, habitat, season, and inter-specific competition. The study system included two gerbil species-Gerbillus pyramidum and G. andersoni allenbyi in a sandy landscape composed of three habitats-shifting, semi-stabilized, and stabilized sand habitats. Conforming to previous studies, in the semi-stabilized sand habitat clear temporal partitioning in activity times occurred, with G. pyramidum being active earlier in the night and G. a. allenbyi being active in the later part of the night. As shown in previous studies in a different, more xeric site, removal of G. pyramidum demonstrated that this activity pattern is the result of interference competition by the latter on the former. Nocturnal activity pattern differed between habitats and seasons. Temporal partitioning occurred in the semi-stabilized sand habitat where both gerbil species were common. In the shifting sand habitat, G. pyramidum activity pattern was similar to that in the semi-stabilized sand habitat, but at a lower level. In the stabilized sand habitat where G. a. allenbyi occurred alone, its activity was the highest among the three habitats and was fairly constant throughout the night. Temporal partitioning occurred in the fall and early summer, but not in the early spring. The roles of predation risk, competition and resource dynamics in determining the gerbils' temporal activity together with their implications for community structure, are discussed.

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