Fluctuation of body mass in cotton rats and pocket gophers during the late Cenozoic in the Meade basin of Kansas: possible influence of the Huckleberry Ridge Ash-fall

Robert A. Martin, David L. Fox, Andrew Urevig, Makayla R.P. Dean, Adam N. Rountrey, Pablo Peláez-Campomanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Equations estimating body mass were used to depict a near 5-million-year history of size change in pocket gophers and cotton rats from the Meade Basin of southwestern Kansas. Although phyletic size decrease was noted in Sigmodon minor and Geomys minor and size increase in Geomys quinni, no long-term intra-basin size trends were observed. Immediately following the Huckleberry Ridge ash-fall at 2.11 Ma, the small Pliocene cotton rat S. minor became extinct, a large cotton rat entered the basin, two gophers became extinct, and two new ones entered the basin. Assuming the same rodent contingent at the Short Haul locality as at the Aries A site, between deposition of the Borchers and Short Haul assemblages, minimally about 0.12 million years, 40% of the Meade Basin rodent fauna turned over and Microtus dispersed into North America across Beringia. Geochemical environmental proxy data did not identify significant climatic events in the Borchers Badlands Pleistocene sequence; consequently it is possible that a super-eruption from the Yellowstone caldera was at least partly responsible for size shifts in cotton rats and pocket gophers and significant modifications to the Meade Basin rodent community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-994
Number of pages12
JournalHistorical Biology
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Geographic Society [5963-97, 6547-99]; National Science Foundation [EAR 0307582, EAR 1338262]. This study represents the results of a concerted effort to collect a dense rodent record in the Meade Basin allowing examination of community change on short-term and long-term scales. Many colleagues, former students, landowners, and museum personnel are thanked for their contributions. J. Calede, Ohio State University, provided discussions about extant geomyid body size estimates. We also appreciate the comments and suggestions from three anonymous reviewers. This research was supported by the National Geographic Society (5963-97, 6547-99) and the National Science Foundation (EAR 0207582).

Funding Information:
This study represents the results of a concerted effort to collect a dense rodent record in the Meade Basin allowing examination of community change on short-term and long-term scales. Many colleagues, former students, landowners, and museum personnel are thanked for their contributions. J. Calede, Ohio State University, provided discussions about extant geomyid body size estimates. We also appreciate the comments and suggestions from three anonymous reviewers. This research was supported by the National Geographic Society (5963-97, 6547-99) and the National Science Foundation (EAR 0207582).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Cenozoic
  • Rodent
  • body size

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