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Allegheny Woodrat (Neotoma magister) is a rodent species that typically inhabits rocky outcrops throughout the Appalachian Mountains. In recent decades, the overall range has decreased significantly.
Allegheny Woodrat is a relatively large member of this group, ranging from 14-17 inches in total length (including tail). The fur is brownish-gray with slightly darker coloration in the middle of the back. The belly and paws are white and the sides are buff. The Allegheny Woodrat has large ears and a furry, bicolored tail. The introduced exotic Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) has a naked tail and overall brown coloration, which distinguishes.
Survival times varied greatly but were generally poor.Eleven woodrats died or were lost within the first 2 weeks after release and were removed from the analysis. Despite differences in the mean number of acorns per plot, acorn availability was not a significant covariate in the model. Parasite-contamination level, as expressed by the latrine-finding rate, was a significant covariate, with animals in the less-contaminated sites living significantly longer than animals in the highly contamination sites.
Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister) populations suggest a better understanding of the basic ecology of this species is needed for proper management. Because current forest management practices may be affecting available food resources, managers are increasingly in need of information regarding changes in food resource availability and distribution. Total food item and species richness and diversity measures were also calculated. We examined differences among seasons and sexes within and between provinces. In the Allegheny Plateau, the top five food items were fungi, blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), oak acorns (Quercus spp.), ferns (Dryopteris spp.), and lichens. In the Ridge and Valley woodrats ate primarily blackberry (Rubus spp.) leaves, fungi, greenbrier (Smilax spp.) leaves, acorns, and oak leaves.
Food habits of the Allegheny woodrat appeared to follow predicted patterns of optimal foraging strategies for both short- and long-term optimization. Although there were no significant differences in diversity values among seasons, the diversity of food items in the surrounding habitat was higher during the foraging period than when woodrats relied on cached foods. In the Ridge and Valley, species richness was higher in winter 1998 than in summer 1998. Female woodrats had higher total food item richness than males in fall 1997, whereas richness was higher for males in summer 1998.
Life Cycle: Population density varies across the geographic range. Neal (1967) estimated allegheny woodrat populations in Louisiana as 0.2 to 0.82 individuals/ha following a local population decline . Average home range of allegheny woodrat was 0.26 ha for males and 0.17 ha for females . Male home ranges are larger due to increased distances travelled to secure mates . In Illinois, 41.7% of 283 individuals were males .
allegheny woodrat is a moderately long-lived rodent species.In reported an adult male previously captured was recaptured 827 days later. An adult female was captured over a 1,089 day period. Captive woodrats generally live about 2 years, but can live up to 4 years . Annual survival of allegheny woodrat in Illinois was 23% , survived to adult size and 3 survived long enough to reproduce.
Although it is the northern limit of the species range the Allegheny woodrat has a long history in New York. Researchers have found woodrat bones over 20,000 years old as far north in the Hudson river valley as Albany. In historical times records of woodrats have been restricted to accumulations of large talus boulders throughout the Hudson Highlands and Shawangunk mountains of southeastern New York, east to the Hudson River and south to the New Jersey border.
Managment Implications Allegheny woodrats in the Central Appalachians: winterâ€”wood/shield fern, blackberry leaves, blueberry leaves,fungi, and hemlock; springâ€”fungi, buds, blackberry leaves, holly fruit, and greenbrier fruit; summerâ€”fungi, lichen, acorn, blueberry leaves, and holly/blueberry fruit; fallâ€”acorns, fungi, wood/shield fern, greenbrier and blackberry leaves, and Christmas fern. Similar sized rodents consume approximately their own weight in food per week (Uhlig 1955). Therefore, during the cache dependent period (mid November through mid March), each woodrat may require 37.5-55 kg of food. Although other foods are used during this time, our data show there is a strong dependence on hard mast and fungi during the winter months.
Average seed crops for central hardwood oak stands may reach 322 kg of acorns per acre. To maximize the benefits to Allegheny woodrats and to minimize variation in mast availability, we suggest promoting both traditional mast species (such as oak, cherry, and beech) as well as nontraditional mast species (such as grape, blueberry, maple, and greenbrier). This allows buffer species to provide mast in seasons when traditional mast is not available (Edwards et al. 1993). During years of poor traditional mast production, buffer species will compensate and provide a variety of available foods.
Allegheny Woodrat Nest
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