Seminar Details

Etudes on the foraging ecology of desert rodents at different spatial and temporal scales, from micropatch selection to intercontinental consequences of macroevolutionary advances




Prof. Burt Kotler - Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


The traits of organisms are shaped by natural selection and can be viewed as adaptations. Foraging behaviors are among the most important of traits because they mediate the interaction of the organism and its environment and play crucial roles is managing the tradeoff of food and safety. Here, I use behavioral indicators based on foraging theory to look at the consequences of scales in space and time. I focus on Allenby’s gerbil, a small seed-eating rodent found on sandy substrates in the Negev Desert. Using a combination of experiments in the laboratory, outdoor enclosures, I quantified giving-up densities (GUDs) and quitting harvest rates of rodents exploiting depletable resource patches. In going from micropatches to macroevolution, I provide evidence for scales of habitat selection, risk management, the risk pump, possible ecotypes, mechanisms of species coexistence, scales of temporal partitioning, and intercontinental convergence and limits to convergence. Thus we can use foraging traits to reveal fitness consequences of optimal behaviors, and through that the ecology of individuals, populations, communities, and more.

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