Research Project | 2023

Effects of interspecific competition on habitat use by Stephens’ kangaroo rat


Awardee: Janine Fischer

Bio: Janine is a Ph.D. student co-advised by Dr. Grether and Dr. Shier at UCLA, and who interested in how aggressive interference between species influences their coexistence and habitat use. Her current studies focus on endangered and threatened heteromyid species. She has examined how interference with the Dulzura kangaroo rat impacts the success of endangered Pacific pocket mouse reintroductions, and is currently studying interference between the Dulzura kangaroo rat and the threatened Stephens’ kangaroo rat. She aims to understand which species is behaviorally dominant over the other and how the two species influence each other’s space use.

Project Description:
Stephens’ kangaroo rat is a threatened species whose range overlaps broadly with the Dulzura kangaroo rat. These two species appear to partially segregate into different microhabitats where they co-occur, but it is unknown whether the two species have different microhabitat preferences or whether they exclude one another from certain habitats. This study uses a fine-scaled PIT tag monitoring system to better understand how microhabitat features and interspecific competition influence the space use of each of these species. Understanding patterns of avoidance between the two species can help inform management decisions at reserves with populations of Stephens’ kangaroo rat.