Dissertation > Agricultural Sciences > Forestry > Forest Protection > Animal damage and its prevention > Rodent infestation and its control

Study on the Food Hoarding Behavior of Siberian Chipmunks, Tamias sibiricus

Author ShenZhen
Tutor YiXianFeng
School Henan University of Science and Technology
Course Ecology
Keywords Tamias sibiricus scatter-hoarding remove the pericarp conspecificand interspecific interference competitions seed availability directed seed dispersal
CLC S764.5
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
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Food hoarding is a wide-spread behavior adopted by various animals in the nature.Animals not only consume a large proportion of seeds but also disperse and cache asmall proportion of seeds, which likely become seedlings if these seeds can finallyescape seed consumption. There are many influencing factors of hoarding behavior ina complex environment; therefore, effective management of caches is necessary duringthe food-hoarding period. Here, we deployed seed placement experiments in thesemi-natural enclosures and field, to reveal the hoarding behavior of Siberianchipmunks (Tamias sibiricus) and related influencing factors in Xiaoxing’an Mountainareas of Heilongjiang province. We found:(1) Siberian chipmunks (T. sibiricus) always remove the pericarp of acorns ofQuercus mongolica prior to caching them. We proposed four hypotheses and testedthem. Finally, we concluded that Siberian chipmunks removed the pericarp of acornsto discriminate between sound and insectinfested acorns for scatter hoarding.(2) In the semi-natural enclosures, we investigated the effects of conspecific andinterspecific interference competitions on hoarding behavior of Siberian chipmunks (T.sibiricus). We found:1) Scatter-hoarding intensity of the Siberian chipmunks hassignificantly differences in gender, and the female individuals scatter-hoard more pineseeds;2) Inter-specific interference competition increased scatter-hoarding of Siberianchipmunk, however, intra-specific interference has no significant effect. But Siberianchipmunks avoided to cache in the areas of high competitions in face of bothconspecifics and interspecifics.3) Both inter-and intra-sexual competitions showed nosignificant influence on scatter-hoarding of Siberian chipmunk in face of male andfemale individuals; but female chipmunks decreased to cache in the high competitionareas, and the males increased to cache in the median competition areas whenconspecifics presented.(3) We investigated the effects of seed availability (simulated mast seeding) on seed hoarding of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) by Siberian chipmunk (T. sibiricus) inthe semi-natural enclosures. Our results indicated:1) Siberian chipmunks tended to eat,remove and cache more seeds with the increasing of seed availability of P. koraiensis.2) An increase of seed availability enhance cache size and dispersal distances,supporting the ‘masting-enhanced hoarding hypothesis.’(4) To explore the driving mechanism of hoarding behavior of T. sibiricus, wedeployed seed placement experiments in the semi-natural enclosures and field to testthe four hypotheses related to scatterhoarding behavior of Siberian chipmunks:“non-adaptive hypothesis”,“lack of space hypothesis”,“rapid-sequesteringhypothesis”,“pilfering-avoidance hypothesis”. Our results showed that T. sibiricustended to scatter-hoarding to avoid the catastrophic loss in the presence of pilferagerisk, supporting the ‘pilfering-avoidance hypothesis.’(5) To explore the effect of soil relative humidity on hoarding behavior of T.sibiricus, we deployed experiments in the home-in and semi-natural enclosures.Results indicated:1) High soil relative humidity facilitated scatter-hoarding rodents torecover their caches.2) Siberian chipmunks directionally hoarded the seed to thelocations where soil relative humidity is high, indicating a new type of direct seeddispersal.

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