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Foraging in the subterranean social Damaraland mole-rat, Cryptomys damarensis: an investigation into size-dependent geophyte utilization and foraging patterns

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The foraging behaviour of captive colonies of the Damaraland mole-rat, Cryptomys damarensis, was investigated in an artificial soil-filled burrow system provided with three tray patches that varied in bulb and corm (i.e., geophyte) density and size. Members of two founder colonies (comprising three and four mole-rats) were exposed to resource patches that varied in food profitability (both size and density of geophytes). There was no preference for excavating any of the patches with different densities or sizes of geophytes. The larger geophytes were preferentially stored and the smaller ones preferentially eaten both on encounter and within the food store. The duration of handling and rate of consumption of geophytes by 15 animals of various body sizes from three colonies were recorded. Handling time was related to the size of the geophytes. Small geophytes were less profitable to consume. It was concluded that the mole-rats generally followed the qualitative predictions of optimal foraging theory but fell short of being energy maximizers.

Nous avons étudié le comportement de recherche de nourriture dans des colonies captives de rats-taupes de Damaraland, Cryptomys damarensis, dans un système de terriers artificiels rempli de terre où nous avons aménagé trois parcelles de ressources sous forme de plateaux de tailles différentes contenant des densités diverses de bulbes et de tiges (i.e. de géophytes). Les membres des deux colonies fondatrices, respectivement 3 et 4 rats-taupes, ont été mis en présence de parcelles de ressources alimentaires de bénéfice variable, d'après la taille et la densité des géophytes. Les rats-taupes ne creusaient de façon préférentielle dans aucune des parcelles, qui contenaient différentes densités de géophytes ou des géophytes de différentes tailles. Ils emmagasinaient surtout les gros géophytes et consommaient surtout les petits, tant sur le sol que dans leurs réserves. Nous avons enregistré la durée de la manipulation et le taux de consommation de géophytes chez 15 animaux de tailles différentes appartenant à trois colonies. Il y a une corrélation entre la durée de la manipulation et la taille des géophytes. La consommation de petits géophytes est moins rentable. En conclusion, les rats-taupes suivent en gros les prédictions qualitatives de la théorie de quête optimale, sans toutefois aller jusqu'à maximiser leur énergie.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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