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Architecture Characteristics of Burrow System of Plateau Pika, Ochotona curzoniae

Architecture Characteristics of Burrow System of Plateau Pika, Ochotona curzoniae

Wanrong Wei and Weiguo Zhang* 

State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, P.O. Box 61, Lanzhou 730020, China

*        Corresponding author: wgzhang@lzu.edu.cn

ABSTRACT

Burrows serve many functions for animals by providing a place for rearing young, sleeping, hibernation, food storage, protection from predators and extreme environment, and the function of burrows varies with the degree of burrow complexity. We studied the burrow architecture (length, internal dimensions, fractal dimension of tunnel systems, number of nesting chambers and surface holes) by excavating the tunnels of 24 burrow systems of the plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae). Pikas have two types of burrow systems, namely temporary and permanent burrows. The number of surface holes and length of tunnels were significantly different between the temporary and permanent burrows. Tunnel width and tunnel height were not significantly different between the temporary and permanent burrows. The permanent burrow had a nesting chamber but temporary did not have any. No hoarding chamber was found in either the permanent or the temporary burrow. The temporary burrow was used to avoid predators in emergency situations, and probably was the initial stage of construction of more complex burrows of some dispersing pikas. Permanent burrows were used for avoiding predators, resting and rearing offsprings.
 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

December

Vol. 49, Iss. 6, Pages 1937-2341

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