Title page for ETD etd-03152004-160413

Type of Document Major Paper
Author Carlisle, Michelle
URN etd-03152004-160413
Title The Ecology of the White-throated Woodrat: Reviewing Theories and Exploring Possible Adaptive Strategies
Degree Master of Natural Resources
Department Natural Resources
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Trauger, David L. Committee Chair
Evans, Gary R. Committee Member
Huff, Jane N. Committee Member
Kelly, Marcella J. Committee Member
  • desert
  • adaptation
  • Neotoma albigula
  • woodrats
  • Neotoma
Date of Defense 2004-02-23
Availability unrestricted
The white-throated woodrat, Neotoma albigula, is a desert rodent, common in the southwestern United States. This species relies on behavioral and physiological adaptations in order to cope with a desert environment. The physiological adaptations of the white-throated woodrat prevent the animal from overheating but do not promote water conservation. The woodrat’s ability to survive in an environment with little water is attributed to behavioral modification, primarily food choice and nocturnality. However, it is possible that the white-throated woodrat may use other survival strategies that are not currently known. Although much of the literature regarding the white-throated woodrat promotes the idea that the species is dependant on cactus as a source of food that provides water, I observed a population of white-throated woodrats that survived in the absence of cactus. After making observations on this population, I reviewed the literature that pertained to the white-throated woodrat and similar species and used my own observations to explore means by which the white-throated woodrat may be surviving in desert environments. Review of the literature of N. albigula and the genus Neotoma suggests that there is tremendous variation among woodrat populations. I propose that woodrat populations are highly individualized and are very responsive to their environment.
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