Inter-specific competitors reduce inter-gender competition in Negev Desert gerbils

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14 Scopus citations


We examined gender-dependent competitive interactions between two nocturnal desert gerbil species, Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi and G. pyramidum, by a field manipulation experiment. The study was done in two 1-ha enclosed plots and included allopatric (only G. a. allenbyi) and sympatric (both species together) treatments. Seed trays and thermal imaging cameras were used to observe the gerbils' foraging activities and aggressive interactions. We found that the negative effect of the competitively dominant species, G. pyramidum, on time spent in seed trays, and ability to control these artificial food patches, was stronger on male than on female G. a. allenbyi. Consequently, the aggression of male G. a. allenbyi towards female G. a. allenbyi was markedly reduced, indicating that the dominant species mediated competition between the genders of the sub-ordinate species. Furthermore, this interference-mediated indirect effect was associated with a decrease in the body mass of male G. a. allenbyi and an increase in the survival of female G. a. allenbyi. We suggest that both the reduction in intra-specific aggression and the positive effect on female survival can potentially stabilize competitive interactions and promote coexistence in this small mammal community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-488
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2005


  • Aggression
  • Indirect effects
  • Interference competition
  • Structured populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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