Abstract

This paper documents the existence of shelter-site selection in the white-throated woodrat, Neotoma albigula. Shelter-site selection is here defined as the selection of a site for construction of a house or den. Selection by wood-rats of house and den sites in areas of southern Arizona and Colorado suggested the hypothesis that cover near ground level is the criterion for such selection. Choice experiments utilizing artificial constructs designed to simulate natural vegetation tested the field-generated hypothesis. Analyses of data showed a significant positive response to dense canopy; the response to low canopy was significant in one analysis, but not in the other. No significant response to stem type was noted. Other results, although consistent with the hypothesis, were not significant. The role of early experience in shelter-site selection was investigated by means of choice experiments. No influence of early experience was indicated under the conditions of the experiment. The results of this work support the hypothesis that shelter-site selection in N. albigula is based on the criterion of cover near ground level.

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