Research Project | 2022

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

FisherAwardee: Janine Fischer

Bio: I am a Ph.D. student co-advised by Dr. Grether and Dr. Shier at UCLA, and I am interested in how aggressive interference between species influences coexistence and habitat use. Specifically, I am studying how interference impacts endangered and threatened heteromyid species. I have previously studied how interference with the Dulzura kangaroo rat impacts the success of endangered Pacific pocket mouse reintroductions, and I am currently studying interference between the Dulzura kangaroo rat and the threatened Stephens’ kangaroo rat. I aim to understand which species is behaviorally dominant over the other and how the two species influence each other’s habitat use.

Project Description: This project focuses on Stephens’ kangaroo rat and the Dulzura kangaroo rat, which are closely related species whose ranges overlap broadly. 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. I will use fine- scaled tracking methods to better understand how habitat features and interspecific competition influence the movement trajectories of each of these species. Understanding patterns of avoidance between these species can help inform management decisions at reserves with populations of Stephens’ kangaroo rat.