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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Chihuahuan Desert kangaroo rats: Nonlinear effects of population dynamics, competition, and rainfall

Lima, Mauricio; Ernest, S.K. Morgan; Brown, James H.; Belgrano, Andrea; Stenseth, Nils


Using long-term data on two kangaroo rats in the Chihuahuan Desert of North America, we fitted logistic models including the exogenous effects of seasonal rainfall patterns. Our aim was to test the effects of intraspecific interactions and seasonal rainfall in explaining and predicting the numerical fluctuations of these two kangaroo rats. We found that logistic models fit both data sets quite well; Dipodomys merriami showed lower maximum per capita growth rates than Dipodomys ordii, and in both cases logistic models were nonlinear. Summer rainfall appears to be the most important exogenous effect for both rodent populations; models including this variable were able to predict independent data better than models including winter rainfall. D. merriami was also negatively affected by another kangaroo rat (Dipodomys spectabilis), consistent with previous experimental evidence. We hypothesized that summer rainfall influences the carrying capacity of the environment by affecting seed availability and the intensity of intraspecific competition.


Chihuahuan Desert; desert rodents; Dipodomys merriami; Dipodomys ordii; Dipodomys spectabilis; interspecific competition; kangaroo rat; limiting factors; population processes; summer rainfall; theoretical models

Published in

2008, Volume: 89, number: 9, pages: 2594-2603