|Abstract or Summary
- With a growing emphasis on details of behavior comes an increasing
need for knowledge of natural behavior patterns. Studies
on the life history of Peromyscus maniculatus have long been available
in the literature. More recently, investigators have turned to
analyzing the behavior of some of the subspecies of P.m. in the
laboratory. Field studies using the techniques of ecological research
are normally not suited to discover the behavior patterns of individual
animals. The present study is an attempt to explore some methods
by which life history data may be supplemented with specific information
of interest to investigators conducting laboratory studies.
It was the expressed objective of the writer to describe and
record the voluntary activity of P.m. rubidus kept within simulated
natural habitats. The study encompasses certain environmental
conditions which are thought to influence behavior. Several of these features are: the ecological conditions where the mice were collected,
the dimensions of the simulated natural habitats, the presence of
cover and refuges, and the day-night cycle.
Specific topics addressed were the distribution of the peaks of
activity throughout the 24-hr cycles, the separation of activity observed
into meaningful elements of behavior, the design of a method
by which behavior of the deer mice might be described and quantified,
and the search for behavioral patterns as indicated by changes from
one specific activity to another.
The deer mice were collected from a large blackberry patch
and from along the Willamette River in Eugene, Oregon, as well as
from a woodland near Corvallis, Oregon. The mice, in pairs, were
observed in both a large and a small simulated natural habitat, the
Area and the Cage, respectively. The Area was 30 feet in diameter,
while the Cage measured three by three feet. The mice were kept
in one of the enclosures until a complete 24-hr cycle of observation
had been finished. This normally took five days.
P. m. rubidus is nocturnal, and the method of illumination used
during this study is discussed. Definite and periodic fluctuations in
the levels of activity were found. Forty distinct activities, elements
of behavior, were found to be sufficient for describing the observed
behavior. It should be noted that only spontaneous activities were recorded
and that no attempt was made to observe behavior taking place in the nests. From this study the writer feels that it is possible to
fully describe and record the spontaneous behavior of these mice
when observed under simulated natural conditions.
Through this record a method has been developed by which
behavior can be reconstructed or compared between individuals of
P. m. rubidus studied under similar conditions.