Animal species have evolved different diel activity rhythms that are of adaptive value. Theory suggests that diel temporal partitioning may facilitate coexistence between competitors and between predators and prey. However, relatively few studies demonstrate a temporal shift that is predation- or competition-induced. Recorded shifts are usually within the preferred activity phase of animal species (day or night), although there are some inversions to the opposite phase cycle. Temporal partitioning is not perceived as a common mechanism of coexistence. This rarity has been variously ascribed to theoretical considerations and to the rigidity of time-keeping mechanisms, as well as to other physiological and anatomical traits that may constrain activity patterns. Our decade-long study of spiny mice of rocky deserts demonstrates that, while different factors select for activity patterns, endogenous rhythmicity may be an evolutionary constraint.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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