Arthropods as a prey resource: Patterns of diel, seasonal, and spatial availability

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We studied the distribution in time and in space of desert arthropods as a food resource in order to gain insight into the relationship between foraging activity, foraging microhabitat use, and temporal changes in these parameters, and resource availability. We focused on two primarily insectivorous congeneric species of spiny mice, the common spiny mouse (Acomys cahirinus) and the golden spiny mouse (Acomys russatus), that overlap in their ecology, but differ in their diel activity patterns. Arthropod availability was higher during the night, suggesting that in terms of resource availability, night should be the preferred activity time for spiny mice. Different taxa were active during day and night, suggesting that temporal partitioning could indeed be a mechanism of coexistence between the two species. Seasonal variation in arthropod availability is reflected in spiny mouse diets, with more arthropods taken during summer, allowing temporal partitioning to be a viable mechanism of coexistence. In winter when arthropod availability drops, the two species exhibit trade-offs in foraging microhabitat use. Seasonal and spatial variability in arthropod availability between habitats conforms to habitat choice. Thus resource availability appears to be a significant factor structuring this rocky desert rodent community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-462
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Acomys
  • Arthropods availability
  • Food habits
  • Resource base
  • Temporal partitioning


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