Habitat-dependent differences in architecture and microclimate of the burrows of Sundevall's jird (Meriones crassus) (Rodentia: Gerbillinae) in the Negev Desert, Israel

Georgy Shenbrot, Boris Krasnov, Irina Khokhlova, Tatiana Demidova, Laura Fielden

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    62 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Burrows of Meriones crassus were studied in two habitats in the central Negev Desert. Burrows in the loess habitat were more complex than in the sand habitat. To measure the burrow microclimate, artificial burrows were constructed in natural habitats and equipped with temperature and relative humidity data loggers. Daily fluctuations of temperature and relative humidity in burrows were much lower than those of ambient air. Average burrow temperatures were higher than air temperatures. The difference between average daily ambient and burrow temperatures was higher in the sand habitat than in the loess habitat. Average relative humidity in burrows was lower than relative humidity of ambient air throughout the year in the sand habitat and in summer and autumn in the loess habitat. In winter and spring, relative humidity of burrow air was significantly higher than that of ambient air. The presence of nest material in the burrow chamber increased relative humidity. Laboratory experiments demonstrated that the presence of an animal in the burrow chamber increased soil water content at the chamber's floor and this effect persisted for at least two months after removal of animals.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)265-279
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Arid Environments
    Volume51
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2002

    Keywords

    • Burrow
    • Habitat-dependent differences
    • Humidity
    • Microclimate
    • Rodents
    • Temperature

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