Diet of a sigmodontine rodent assemblage in a Peruvian montane forest

Catherine Teresa Sahley, Klauss Cervantes, Victor Pacheco, Edith Salas, Diego Paredes, Alfonso Alonso

Knowledge of feeding habits of small rodents is necessary for understanding food webs, trophic structure, and plant–animal interactions in Neotropical forests. Despite several studies that have investigated community structure and feeding behavior of rodents, large gaps remain in our understanding of their guild occupancy. Our objective was to investigate the diets of 7 species of small (< 100g) sympatric sigmodontine rodents in a high (3,500 m) Andean montane rainforest in Peru. We qualitatively and quantitatively assessed diet items in fecal samples from livetrapped rodents from 2009 to 2012. Frequency data for 4 diet categories indicated that all 7 species of rodents contained 4 diet categories in fecal samples: arthropods (88%), remains of leaves and fibers from plants (61%), intact seeds (with or without fruit pulp; 50%), and mycorrhizal spores (45%). Omnivory was found to be a strategy used by all species, although contingency table analysis revealed significant differences among and within species in diet categories. Cluster analysis showed 2 main groupings: that of theThomasomys spp. plus Calomys sorellus group which included high amounts of intact seeds and plant parts in their fecal samples, and those of the genera AkodonMicroryzomysOligoryzomys, which included a greater proportion of arthropods in their fecal samples, but still consumed substantial amounts of fruit and plant parts. Intact seed remains from at least 17 plant species (9 families) were found in fecal samples. We concluded that this assemblage of sigmodontine rodents is omnivorous but that they likely play an important role as frugivores and in seed dispersal in tropical montane forests in Peru.

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Catherine Teresa Sahley, Klauss Cervantes, Victor Pacheco, Edith Salas, Diego Paredes, Alfonso Alonso. 2015. Diet of a sigmodontine rodent assemblage in a Peruvian montane forest. Journal of Mammalogy 96(5):1071-1080.