Habitat Use and Abundance Trends of Rodents in Southeastern Arizona
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We evaluated habitat use, abundance trends, and potential relationships between biotic and abiotic conditions and characteristics of rodent assemblages in southeastern Arizona. In May 1995 we established 3 sampling webs in the semidesert grassland at the Santa Rita Experimental Range, Pima County, Arizona. Mark-release trapping was conducted for 3 nights monthly through December 1999. Drought conditions occurred in 1995, moderate rainfall fell during 1996 through 1998, and heavy rainfall fell in 1999. The same pattern of rodent abundance was observed on all 3 webs. With the exception of white-throated woodrats (Neotoma albigula), rodents in our study responded numerically to increased rainfall. Additionally, the pattern of changes in abundance was similar for all species and sexes within species on all 3 sampling webs. There were, however, significant differences in the absolute abundance of many species among the webs. Differences among webs in rodent abundance were related to differences in plant associations among the webs. We found substantial temporal and age-related differences in habitat use for several species. The riparian area was strongly related to the occurrence of brush mice (Peromyscus boylii), white-footed mice (P. leucopus), and woodrats. Our results have specific ramifications in relatively fine-scale planning for restoration of desert plant communities.