Next Article in Journal
Phylogenetically Diverse Fusarium Species Associated with Sorghum (Sorghum Bicolor L. Moench) and Finger Millet (Eleusine Coracana L. Garten) Grains from Ethiopia
Next Article in Special Issue
Stable Isotope Analyses of Multiple Tissues of Great Shearwaters (Ardenna Gravis) Reveals Long-Term Dietary Stability, Short-Term Changes in Diet, and Can be Used as a Tool to Monitor Food Webs
Previous Article in Journal
Invasive Potential of Pet-Traded Pill-Box Crabs from Genus Limnopilos
Previous Article in Special Issue
The Importance of Isotopic Turnover for Understanding Key Aspects of Animal Ecology and Nutrition
Open AccessArticle

Chiseling Away at the Dogma of Dietary Specialization in Dipodomys Microps

School of Biological Sciences, University of Utah, 257 S 1400 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work (co-first authors).
Diversity 2019, 11(6), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11060092
Received: 14 December 2018 / Revised: 3 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 14 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Ecological Research)
Dipodomys microps, the chisel-toothed kangaroo rat, is heralded as one of few mammalian herbivores capable of dietary specialization. Throughout its range, the diet of D. microps is thought to consist primarily of Atriplex confertifolia (saltbush), a C4 plant, and sparing amounts of C3 plants. Using stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen as natural diet tracers, we asked whether D. microps is an obligate specialist on saltbush. We analyzed hair samples of D. microps for isotopes from historic and recent museum specimens (N = 66). A subset of samples (N = 17) from 2017 that were associated with field notes on plant abundances were further evaluated to test how local saltbush abundance affects its inclusion in the diet of D. microps. Overall, we found that the chisel-toothed kangaroo rat facultatively specializes on saltbush and that the degree of specialization has varied over time and space. Moreover, saltbush abundance dictates its inclusion in the diet. Furthermore, roughly a quarter of the diet is comprised of insects, and over the past century, insects have become more prevalent and saltbush less prevalent in the diet. We suggest that environmental factors such as climate change and rangeland expansion have caused D. microps to include more C3 plants and insects. View Full-Text
Keywords: δ13C; Atriplex confertifolia; chisel-toothed kangaroo rat; diet shifts; Dipodomys microps; disturbance; environment; Mojave Desert; museum specimens; saltbush; specialization; stable isotopes δ13C; Atriplex confertifolia; chisel-toothed kangaroo rat; diet shifts; Dipodomys microps; disturbance; environment; Mojave Desert; museum specimens; saltbush; specialization; stable isotopes
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Stephens, S.R.; Orr, T.J.; Dearing, M.D. Chiseling Away at the Dogma of Dietary Specialization in Dipodomys Microps. Diversity 2019, 11, 92.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop