Limited perceptual range and anemotaxis in marsh rice rats Oryzomys palustris

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Abstract:

Dispersal among suitable habitat patches could be crucial to the regional persistence of wetland species. Dispersal success of animals will depend, in part, on the distance from which they can detect suitable habitat (ie, perceptual range). We investigated the perceptual range of marsh rice rats Oryzomys palustris Harlan, 1837 during the wet season in a region of central Florida characterized by small, isolated depression marshes. O. palustris had a limited perceptual range (< 10 m) indicating that individuals moving through unfamiliar habitat have restricted information from which to make movement decisions. O. palustris displayed anemotaxis during our experiment; individuals generally moved either upwind or downwind but rarely crosswind. This anemotaxis might reflect use of wind by rice rats to maintain a straight course while searching for new habitat located beyond their perceptual range.

Keywords: ANEMOTAXIS; ORYZOMYS PALUSTRIS; PERCEPTUAL RANGE; SEARCH BEHAVIOUR; WIND-BIASED

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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