Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 79, No. 4 (Nov., 1998), pp. 1203-1220


Dietary habits of five common rodents in agroecosystems on the central Argentine Pampa were studied for 15 months using microhistological analysis of stomach contents. All five rodent species were omnivorous, but proportions of major dietary items (arthropods, dicot leaves and seeds, monocot leaves and seeds) varied among species and seasons. Akodon azarae largely was entomophagous; arthropods formed 41-62% of the diet in all seasons. The other four species (Calomys musculinus, Calomys laucha, Bolomys obscurus, and Oligoryzomys flavescens) consumed most diet items throughout the year, but relative proportions varied among seasons. Leaves formed a relatively minor proportion of the diet (12- 16% overall for all species) throughout the year. All species except A. azarae consumed higher quantities of seeds (50-73% of stomach volume) than arthropods (15-35%) during autumn and winter but switched to higher quantities of arthropods (30-53%) in spring and summer. Diet breadth was narrower and overlap generally highest during winter when all species were forced to subsist on a reduced set of available resources. Of 28 plant species with >2% cover in the environment, 25 were identified in stomachs of one or more of the five rodent species. The most important plant species in the diet were corn and soybeans (mostly grain), seed of Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense), chickweed (Stellaria media), and Amaranthus. High consumption of arthropods, especially by A. azarae, contraindicates the broad-scale use of rodenticides until the role of that rodent species in the control of pest insects can be ascertained.