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African Zoology

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Dietary patterns of two herbivorous rodents: and Parotomys brantsii in the Karoo

A du Plessis, G.I.H. Kerley, P.E.D. Winter

Abstract


Differences and overlap in the diets of two sympatric, herbivorous rodents Otomys unisulcatus and Parotomys brantsii were investigated. Frequency of occurrence of plant species in the diets were compared with availability of the plants in the rodents' habitats. Both rodents are generalist herbivores, eating plants species in proportion to the availability in their habitats. Dietary patterns, diversity of diet and degree of overlap between rodent's diets are a function of food availability in the different habitats. It is suggested that these rodents separate niches on a spatial rather than trophic basis. Differences in dietary patterns are therefore not critical for niche separation but are the result of habitat segregation.



AJOL African Journals Online