Ord's kangaroo rats living in floodplain habitats: Factors contributing to habitat attraction

Southwestern Naturalist
By: , and 



High densities of an aridland granivore, Ord's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii), have been documented in floodplain habitats along the Yampa River in northwestern Colorado. Despite a high probability of inundation and attendant high mortality during the spring flood period, the habitat is consistently recolonized. To understand factors that potentially make riparian habitats attractive to D. ordii, we compared density and spatial pattern of seeds, density of a competitor (western harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis), and digging energetics within floodplain habitats and between floodplain and adjacent upland habitats. Seed density within the floodplain was greatest in the topographically high (rarely flooded) floodplain and lowest immediately after a spring flood in the topographically low (frequently flooded) floodplain. Seed densities in adjacent upland habitat that never floods were higher than the lowest floodplain habitat. In the low floodplain prior to flooding, seeds had a clumped spatial pattern, which D. ordii is adept at exploiting; after spring flooding, a more random pattern resulted. Populations of the western harvester ant were low in the floodplain relative to the upland. Digging by D. ordii was energetically less expensive in floodplain areas than in upland areas. Despite the potential for mortality due to annual spring flooding, the combination of less competition from harvester ants and lower energetic costs of digging might promote the use of floodplain habitat by D. ordii.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Ord's kangaroo rats living in floodplain habitats: Factors contributing to habitat attraction
Series title Southwestern Naturalist
DOI 10.1894/0038-4909(2003)048<0411:OKRLIF>2.0.CO;2
Volume 48
Issue 3
Year Published 2003
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Southwestern Naturalist
First page 411
Last page 418