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Dongwuxue Yanjiu. 2013 Feb;34(E1):E13-8. doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1141.2013.E01E13.

Seed caching and cache pilferage by three rodent species in a temperate forest in the Xiaoxinganling Mountains.

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  • 1College of Agriculture, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang 471003, China.


Although differences in food-hoarding tactics both reflect a behavioral response to cache pilferage among rodent species and may help explain their coexistence, differentiation in cache pilfering abilities among sympatric rodents with different hoarding strategies is seldom addressed. We carried out semi-natural enclosure experiments to investigate seed hoarding tactics among three sympatric rodent species (Tamias sibiricus, Apodemus peninsulae and Clethrionomys rufocanus) and the relationship of their pilfering abilities at the inter- and intraspecific levels. Our results showed that T. sibiricus exhibited a relatively stronger pilfering ability than A. peninsulae and C. rufocanus, as indicated by its higher recovery rate of artificial caches. Meanwhile A. peninsulae showed a medium pilfering ability and C. rufocanus displayed the lowest ability. We also noted that both cache size and cache depth significantly affected cache recovery in all three species. T. sibiricus scatter-hoarded more seeds than it larder-hoarded, A. peninsulae larder-hoarded more than scatter-hoarded, and C. rufocanus acted as a pure larder-hoarder. In T. sibiricus, individuals with lower pilfering abilities tended to scatter hoard seeds, indicating an intraspecific variation in hoarding propensity. Collectively, these results indicated that sympatric rodent species seem to deploy different food hoarding tactics that allow their coexistence in the temperate forests, suggesting a strong connection between hoarding strategy and pilfering ability.


Caching pilfering; Coexistence; Hoarding strategy; Sympatric rodents

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