Original Papers


, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 133-139

First online:

Assessment of space-use patterns in the hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus)

  • Guy N. CameronAffiliated withProgram in Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biology, University of Houson
  • , Stephen R. SpencerAffiliated withProgram in Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biology, University of Houson

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Ecological interpretation of space use patterns often suffers from two methodological problems: inadequate number of captures per individual and pooling of data over time intervals. Insufficient sample size biases the computation of spatial areas, while pooling data over time intervals may mask shifts in space use due to changes in resource abundance. Radiotelemetry was used to alleviate these problems in an analysis of space use by the hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus). Home range area was greater for males than females, was largest during summer and winter months, was positively correlated with body hass, and was negatively correlated with population dencity. Exclusivity of home range revealed a high degree of ntolerance (41% exclusivity) and was positively correlated with body mass for males. In addition, like-sex categories (male-male, female-female) were more exclusive than unlike sex categories (male-female).

Habitat composition of home ranges of females was significantly different from that of males and from that available. This result suggested home ranges of females were responsive to habitat composition (and quality), while males may respond more to female occurrence than resource availability.

Space-use patterns of the hispid cotton rat indicated a solitary existence with greater tolerance of individuals of the opposite sex. Home range size decreased as population size increased, whereas home range overlaps were not affected by population density. These results reinforced the view of a dominance hierarchy in this species and suggested the existence of a polygynous mating system.