Vital Signs Included in Protocol
Heteromyid rodent communities
Parks Where Protocol Will Be Implemented
BIBE, CAVE, GUMO, WHSA
Justification/Issues Being Addressed
The geographic location and arid and semi-arid environment of these parks provide suitable habitat for a variety of desert, woodland, and montane species of the southwestern United States. Rodents of the family Heteromyidae are species of significance to the Chihuahuan desert ecosystem. Banner-tailed kangaroo rats, (Dipodomys spectabilis) are frequently associated with and are indicators of vegetative condition in Chihuahuan desert grasslands, while other species of Dipodomys are often associated with grassland-shrubland transitions (Whitford et al. 1978). Heteromyid rodents can create feedbacks in desert systems by burrowing, herbivory, and granivory, all activities which redistribute limited resources or change the course of plant community development (Brown and Heske 1990, Guo et al. 1995, Whitford and Bestelmeyer 2006). In addition, small mammals play a key role in ecosystem and biotic community function as trophic bases for secondary and tertiary consumers.