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Agonistic Behavior of Three Sympatric Species of Woodrats (Neotoma mexicana, N. albigula, and N. stephensi)

Robert J. Howe
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1380142 780-786 First published online: 24 November 1978

Abstract

Three species of woodrats (Neotoma mexicana, N. albigula, and N. stephensi) are sympatric in Padre Canyon, Arizona, and elsewhere. A behavioral repertoire was determined in the laboratory for the three species. Males were paired in interspecific and intraspecific pairings to determine if a dominance hierarchy exists among the species as a possible indicator of ecological competition. No qualitative differences were observed among the three species in agonistic or agonistic-related behavior. Neotoma stephensi exhibited significantly less footstomping than either of the other two species. Neotoma mexicana was found to be dominant to the other species, and N. albigula is probably dominant to the smaller N. stephensi. Behavioral differences among the species are discussed in terms of ecological adaptiveness. Neotoma mexicana, with its “bold” temperament and dominant behavioral profile probably outcompetes N. albigula for den sites.

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