Allactodipus bobrinskiiBobrinski's jerboa

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Geographic Range

Allactodipus bobrinskii (Bobrinski's jerboa) can be found in the Palearctic region throughout northern and western areas of Turkmenistan and central and western areas of Uzbekistan. Its distribution more specifically includes the Karakumy and Kyzylkum deserts. (Wilson and Reeder, 2005)

Habitat

Allactodipus bobrinskii mainly inhabits the Kyzylkum and Karakum deserts. The Kyzylkum desert is made up of red sand while the Karakum desert is mostly salt marsh sands. Both deserts have areas of sparse vegetation and scrub. Only inhabiting loamy and hard gravel plains in these deserts, A. bobrinskii avoids fully sandy regions. These jerboas construct burrows on a slightly raised mound that is free from vegetation. A key environmental factor for this species is annual vegetation with various aspects of the local vegetation influencing species abundance. (Nowak, 1999; Shenbrot and Rogovin, 1995; Tsytsulina, 2008)

  • Range elevation
    300 (high) m
    984.25 (high) ft

Physical Description

Bobrinski's jerboas are saltatorial with hind limbs that are elongated to 58 mm; they use their excellent jumping abilities as an anti-predator defense. While the length of a jump has not been recorded for Bobrinski's jerboas, related jerboas have been documented to jump up to 3 meters in one bound. The hind feet of Bobrinski's jerboas have three middle toes that are densely covered in a brush of stiff hairs. These stiff hairs provide some traction against the sand. Body length has been reported to be 120 mm for males and 113 mm for females with the average Bobrinski's jerboa weighing 65 grams. These jerboas have long, slender tails (165 to 170 mm) with a tuft on the end; they use their tail for balance when jumping or to prop themselves up when standing. This species has small ears (22 to 23 mm) that measure about one fifth of the body length. They have a silky coat with upper parts composed of a yellow straw colored hair that is markedly darkened in color by dark hair tips that are grey-brown. They have pure white underparts and hip patches, and the front of the head is slightly paler in color than the back. They also have protruding upper incisors and greatly inflated auditory bullae. (Kolesnikov, 1937; Macdonald, 2001; Nowak, 1999; Shenbrot and Rogovin, 1995)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Average mass
    65 g
    2.29 oz
  • Range length
    278 to 290 mm
    10.94 to 11.42 in

Reproduction

The mating system of A. bobrinskii is not currently known. The mating systems of other species of jerboas is also poorly documented and needs further research. This poor documentation is probably the result of their shyness. (Hodgson, 2004)

Allactodipus bobrinskii has two observed breeding seasons: April to June and September to October. These jerboas start breeding soon after emergence from hibernation. They usually breed twice in a breeding season, which equates to about 10 offspring per breeding season. Their gestation period is on average 30 days. The weaning period of A. bobrinskii offspring is not known, but close relatives, Allactaga elater and Allactaga major, have offspring nursed and cared for up until 30 to 45 days old. The age at sexual maturity is also unknown for this species, but A. elater reaches sexual maturity at 142 days, both in males and females. (Anderson and Jones, Jr., 1967; Closey, 2001; Macdonald, 2001; Nowak, 1999; Tsytsulina, 2008)

  • Breeding interval
    Usually Bobrinski's jerboa females willl breed at least twice in a season.
  • Breeding season
    Bobrinski's jerboas have been reported breeding in April to June and again in September to October.
  • Range number of offspring
    3 to 7
  • Average number of offspring
    5.3
  • Range gestation period
    25 to 35 days

No data on parental investment have been reported for A. bobrinskii, but in a close relative, Allactaga euphratica, young receive care from their mother until they reach independence. Many species in the closely related genus g. Allactaga provide food and protection in the burrow for 1 to 1.5 months. In these species, once the offspring have reached independence, there is no parental involvement. Parental care is provided by females. (Hodgson, 2004)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

There is no information on the longevity of A. bobrinskii in either the wild or captivity. In the wild, other species of jerboas typically live for up to 2 to 3 years of age. A close relative, A. euphratica, lived 4 years and 2 months in captivity. (Hodgson, 2004; Macdonald, 2001)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    2 to 3 years

Behavior

Bobrinski's jerboas are nocturnal rodents, foraging only at night. They are shy and seldom seen. These jerboas hibernate during inclement weather, which might contribute to the low number of sightings. Hibernation is shallow with activity occurring during partial thaws. They are burrowing rodents, with separate types of burrows for both night/day and summer/winter. Some of the burrows are permanent, while others are temporary and much shallower in depth. Although burrow occupation has not been examined in A. bobrinskii, in other jerboas, a single animal typically inhabits a burrow. Allactodipus bobrinskii also builds a separate burrow for nesting. This species is saltatorial and can jump quickly and long distances, using its long hindlimbs. It uses this as an anti-predator adaptation for escape. (Anderson and Jones, Jr., 1967; Macdonald, 2001; Nowak, 1999; Tsytsulina, 2008)

Home Range

Home range sizes in Bobrinski's jerboas is unknown.

Communication and Perception

Bobrinski's jerboas are nocturnal and have large eyes to perceive their environment in low light. They also have very large auditory bullae which pick up low sounds extremely well. They tap theirs foot inside of the burrow, producing a low drumming noise, which may be a form of communication. In general, jerboas have a good sense of smell, vision and hearing. (Macdonald, 2001; Nowak, 1999)

Food Habits

Bobrinski's jerboas are omnivorous, eating mostly seeds, green parts of plants, and insects. In most seasons, they forage about equally on vegetation and insects. In the spring insects become a much more significant part of the diet. They can use the hairs on their forelimbs to sift through the sand for food. Bobrinski's jerboas do not need to drink water; instead they generate metabolic water from their food. (Macdonald, 2001; Tsytsulina, 2008)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts

Predation

Bobrinski's jerboas are relatively defenseless and will therefore use their large hind limbs and fast jumping and running abilites as an anti-predatory strategy for escape. Another defense they use is avoiding visual detection by predators. This species is nocturnal, which causes it to be safe from diurnal predators. It also has coloration that mimmicks the color of the sand in its environment; this also helps avoid predators' sight. There is no literature on the predators of A. bobrinskii, but because it is nocturnal, potential predators could include snakes and small or medium-sized nocturnal mammals. Some small-medium nocturnal mammals that inhabit A. bobrinskii areas are Felis margarita (sand cats) and Vulpes corsac (Corsac foxes). (Hodgson, 2004; Macdonald, 2001)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Because its diet includes seeds, A. bobrinskii probably disperses seeds in its environment. Also, it is probably an important prey item for small-medium sized animals, such as Felis margarita and Vulpes corsac in this arid habitat. (Macdonald, 2001)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Although A. bobrinskii does not directly impact humans, it still carries out an important role in keeping the desert ecosystem functioning and healthy. A close relative, A. elater, is used by humans for its fur to make clothing and other items. (Closey, 2001; Hodgson, 2004)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Because its diet includes seeds and green portions of plants, A. bobrinskii is a potential crop pest for humans. Close relatives have been known to destroy a whole crop overnight. Also, A. elater can carry and transmit disease, so this could be a potential problem too. However, since it lives in such an arid environment, A. bobrinskii is unlikely to have a significant influence on humans. (Closey, 2001; Hodgson, 2004)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

A. bobrinskii is listed on the IUCN Red List as of least concern, suggesting that it does not need special attention for the time being.

Contributors

Jaime Andrzejewski (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor, instructor), Michigan State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

heterothermic

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

hibernation

the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

saltatorial

specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Anderson, S., J. Jones, Jr.. 1967. Recent Mammals of the World. New York: The Ronald Press Company.

Closey, C. 2001. "Allactaga elater" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 27, 2009 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Allactaga_elater.html.

Hodgson, S. 2004. "Allactaga euphratica" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 27, 2009 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Allactaga_euphratica.html.

Kolesnikov, I. 1937. A New Genus and Species of Jerboa Allactodipus bobrinskii (Rodentia, Dipodidae) from the Kzyl-kumy desert, Middle Asia.. Byulletin Sredne Aziatskago Gosudarstvennago Universiteta, 22/29: 255.

Macdonald, D. 2001. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: Barnes & Noble Inc..

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press.

Shenbrot, G., K. Rogovin. 1995. Temporal variation in spatial organization of a rodent community in the southwestern Kyzylkum desert (Middle Asia). Ecography, 18: 370-383.

Tsytsulina, K. 2008. "IUCN 2008 Red List- Allactodipus bobrinskii" (On-line). 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed March 04, 2009 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/861.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 2005. Mammal Species of the World. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press.