Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs


Literature concerning North American nocturnal desert rodents is reviewed to delimit current knowledge of the importance of various factors to abundance, distribution, and genetic structure. In addition, strategies for further study are suggested. Abundance: That increased rodent abundance often follows flushes of annual plant growth that follow favorable rains is well established. The ultimate reason for this pattern has not been established. Competition is important as well, but predation and parasitism have received little consideration. Distribution: Patterns of distribution have been shown to correspond to temperature, moisture, substrate, or vegetative parameters. An important question that remains is to determine the relative importance of physiological specialization vs. interspecific interactions leading to habitat specialization. Genetic Structure: Despite a number of studies on desert rodent systematics, little is known of the genetic structure of desert rodent populations. Behavioral, demographic, indirect genetic, and direct genetic evidence can be used to detect deviations from panmixia.