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Utilization of food resources by small and medium-sized mammals in the Monte Desert biome, Argentina

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Abstract

Theoretical models of species coexistence between desert mammals have generally been based on a combination of food and microhabitat selection by granivorous rodents. Although these models are applicable in various deserts of the world, they cannot explain resource use by mammals in Neotropical deserts. The present study examines diet composition in a mammal assemblage in the Monte desert, Argentina. The results show that two main strategies are used by these mammals: medium-sized species (hystricognath rodents: Dolichotis patagonum, Lagostomus maximus, Microcavia australis and Galea musteloides; and an exotic lagomorph: Lepus europaeus) are herbivores, whereas small-sized species (a marsupial: Thylamys pusillus; and sigmodontine rodents: Graomys griseoflavus, Akodon molinae, Calomys musculinus, Eligmodontia typus) are omnivorous. Small mammals also show a tendency towards granivory (C. musculinus), insectivory (A. molinae and T. pusillus) and folivory (G. griseoflavus).

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