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Activity rhythms in the shrews, Sorex sinuosus Grinnell and Sorex trowbridgii Baird

, : Activity rhythms in the shrews, Sorex sinuosus Grinnell and Sorex trowbridgii Baird. American Midland Naturalist, 992: 369-382

Patterns of 24 h locomotor activity were recorded in 2 spp. of shrews S. sinuosus Grinnell and S. trowbridgii Baird by an activity box designed to monitor the amount and location of movement in 4 different areas: nest, food, water and corners. In both species the total amount of 24 h activity was not dependent on the age or sex of the shrews; differences in activity levels were correlated with their reproductive condition. Breeding adults were more than twice as active as sexually immature young adults and nonbreeding old adults. Interspecific comparisons of animals in comparable physiological states revealed that S. trowbridgii were significantly more active than were S. sinuosus. All shrews exhibited intermittent activity throughout a 24 h period. Seasonal differences in the distribution of infradien activity, expressed as nocturnal-diurnal ratios, were attributed primarily to marked increases in nocturnal activity in breeding shrews. Periodicities of short-term cycles approximated 1 h in both species. S. sinuosus was active an average of 24% of a 24 h period; S. trowbridgii, 39%. An analysis based on the proportion of activity allotted to the food and water areas revealed no differences correlated with the reproductive condition of the shrews, despite the fact that breeding animals sustained higher activity levels while consuming less food per body weight than did nonbreeding shrews. These results were explained by greater assimilation efficiencies in breeding shrews. Variation in corner activity was associated with reproductive condition and can be raised to behavioral changes of shrews observed in the field.


DOI: 10.2307/2424814

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