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Ashley Rolfe

Major: Wildlife Ecology & Conservation

Ashley Rolfe

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stephen Jenkins

Research Topic: "The Influence of Olfactory Cues on the Seed-Harvesting Behavior of Merriam's Kangaroo Rats (Dipodomys merriami)"

Abstract: Due to low resource availability and variable weather conditions in desert ecosystems, many organisms alter their foraging behavior to compensate for the decrease in resource abundance. Desert rodents participate in reciprocal pilfering behavior of caches which affects the food availability for and survival of certain individuals. This study investigated the pilfering behavior of Merriam's kangaroo rats (Dipodomys merriami) as a function of olfactory cues on seeds. Six scenting and six harvesting individuals were paired resulting in 36 replications to test the preference of scented versus unscented seeds when foraging. There was significant evidence of seed preference for eating unscented over scented seeds by D. merriami. However there was no strong evidence of preference by D. merriami when re-caching seeds; even though there was some individual variation in seed preference in response to the scent of different caching individuals.

Graduated With Baccalaureate Degree with high distinction: Summer 2008

Masters or Doctoral Program Update: Accepted into a Master's Program in Ecology and Organismal Biology at Eastern Michigan University for fall of 2008.

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