Food Partitioning Between Two Sympatric Cricetid Species


John C. Cook

Date of Graduation

Spring 1977


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Tom Stombough


Many cricetid rodents occur sympatrically; their co-occurence could result in direct or indirect competition and this competition could result in the discontinuous distribution of a species within its geographic range. Presumably, sympatric species avoid competition by partitioning resources. The extent of niche overlap and resource partitioning can be determined by studying food habits of sympatric species. Microtus ochrogaster and Peromyscus maniculatus occur sympatrically at the Southwest Missouri State University agricultural station. Fecal and stomach content samples from these species were collected and analyzed for the type and amount of food within each sample. Home ranges for each species were also studied. While the study showed that home ranges of M. ochrogaster and P. maniculatus overlapped throughout the year, fecal and stomach content analysis demonstrated food partitioning. Both M. ochrogaster and P. maniculatus consumed different food items at different times of the year and differing amounts of the same food item at the same time of the year. Significant differences between the type of food eaten lead to the hypothesis that these two sympatric species are able to co-exist by avoidance of competition for food resources.

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© John C Cook