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Wednesday, January 27 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Differential Seed Preferences of Tamias Striatus and Neotamias Minimus and Their Implications For The Great Lakes Region

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AUTHORS: Amy Johnson, University of Notre Dame; Michael J. Cramer*, University of Notre Dame; David Flagel, University of Notre Dame; Samantha Driscoll, Syracuse University

ABSTRACT: Seed predation is important to understand because granivores have the ability to significantly alter plant populations. Many granivores display preferences for certain seed species, so the composition of granivores in a region may influence tree recruitment patterns. In the Great Lakes region, eastern chipmunks Tamias striatus and least chipmunks Neotamias minimus are some of the largest and most abundant seed predators. The relative abundances of these two chipmunk species have been changing in the past years, likely due to climate change. The smaller and northerly N. minimus are becoming less abundant and the larger, southerly T. striatus are becoming more abundant in this region. This study aimed to determine if these chipmunk species have different seed preferences and if so how those seed preferences differ. Knowledge of seed preferences will help better predict how the changing species compositions will affect the forest dynamics in the Great Lakes region. Chipmunks used in this study were placed in cafeteria-style feeding trials that offered seeds from five most common tree species in the Great Lakes region. Both of the chipmunk species displayed significant seed preferences. It was found that T. striatus prefer sugar maple seeds and that N. minimus prefer red maple seeds. Not only do the two species prefer different seeds, but each species avoids the seed type that the other chipmunk prefers. This could be evidence of resource partitioning and limiting similarity because the larger granivore preferred one of the largest seeds and the smaller chipmunk preferred one of the smallest seeds. Since it is not known what the seed fates are for the seeds preferred by chipmunks in this region, it is not currently known what the effect of changing chipmunk species composition will have on the trees forests of the Great Lakes region.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST

Attendees (2)