The Ecology of the White-throated Woodrat: Reviewing Theories and Exploring Possible Adaptive Strategies
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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 woodratâ 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.