A summary of wild, opuntiofagous vertebrates


Part(s) consumed



Berlandier's tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri) Galápagos tortoise (Testudo elephantinus) Leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) Galápagos land iguana (Conocephalus pallidus) Galápagos land iguana (C. subcristatus) Daphne lava lizard (Microlophus albemarensis) Pinta lava lizard (M. pacificus)

Whiptail (Cnemidophorus lemniscatus) Lagarto Tizón (Gallotia galloti)

Pads, petals, fruits Pads, fruits Fruits

Pads, petals, fruits

Pads, petals

Petals, nectar, pollen

Petals, nectar, pollen, fruits



Auffenberg and Weaver (1969); Rose and Judd (1982)

Thorton (1971); Biggs (1990)

Milton (1992)

Christian et al. (1984)

Thorton (1971); Biggs (1990)

East (1995)

Schluter (1984)

Mijares-Urrutia et al. (1997) Valido and Nogales (1994)


Ostrich (Struthio camelus) Emu (Dromiceus sp.) Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) Scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) White-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica)

Galápagos dove (Z. galapagoensis)

Mourning dove (Z. macroura)

Greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Mexican jay (Aphelocoma ultramarina) Black magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) Common raven (Corvus corax) Chihuahuan raven (C. cryptoleucus)

Little raven (C. mellori)

Curve-billed thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)

Galápagos mockingbird (Nesomimus parvulus)

Canyon towhee (Pipilo fuscus) House finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) Genovesa cactus finch (Geospiza conirostris)

Galápagos finch (G. difficilis) Daphne Major ground finch (G. fortis) Galápagos finch (G. fuliginosa) Galápagos finch (G. magnirostris) Daphne Major cactus finch (G. scandens)

Fruits Fruits Fruits Fruits Seeds Fruits

Pads, petals, nectar, pollen, fruits, seeds




Fruits Fruits Fruits Fruits

Fruits Fruits

Pads, nectar, pollen, seeds Fruits Fruits

Pads, nectar, pollen, seeds Nectar, pollen, seeds Nectar, pollen, seeds Nectar, pollen, seeds Nectar, pollen, seeds Pads, nectar, pollen, fruits, seeds

Burt-Davy (1920) Darnell-Smith (1919) Lehman (1984) Lehman (1984); Brown (1989) Lehman (1984)

Lehman (1984); Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-

Ascencio (1986)

Grant and Grant (1979, 1981)

Lehman (1984)

Clements and Shelford (1939)

Clements and Shelford (1939); Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986)

Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986) Darnell-Smith (1919)

M. Riojas-Lopez (unpublished observations) Lehman (1984); Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986) McCulloch (1980)

Lehman (1984); Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-

Ascencio (1986)

Grant and Grant (1981)

Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986)

Grant and Grant (1981, 1989)

Bowman (1961); Grant and Grant (1981) Grant and Grant (1981); Price (1987); Grant (1996) Grant and Grant (1981); Dodd and Brady (1988) Grant and Grant (1981)

Lack (1947); Bowman (1961); Grant and Grant (1981); Millington and Grant (1983); Grant (1996)


Part(s) consumed



Mexican long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris mexicana) Nectar, pollen

Big long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis) Fruits

Baboon (Papio hamadryas) Fruits

"Monkeys" (Family Cercopithecidae) Fruits

Shasta ground sloth (Nothrotheriops shastense) Pads, petals, fruits

European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) Fruits

Desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii) Pads, fruits

Nuttall's cottontail (S. nuttallii) Pads

Antelope jackrabbit (Lepus alleni) Pads

Black-tailed jackrabbit (L. californicus) Stems, pads, fruits

White-tailed jackrabbit (L. townsendii) Pads

Harris' antelope-squirrel (Ammospermophilus harrisii) Fruits, seeds

Spotted ground squirrel (Spermophilus spilosoma) Pads

Thirteen-lined ground squirrel (S. tridecemlineatus) Fruits, seeds

Rock squirrel (S. variegatus) Fruits

Ground squirrel (S. sp.) Seeds

Botta's pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae) Roots, stems

Mountain pocket gopher (T. talpoides) Pads

Baileyi's pocket mouse (Chaetodipus baileyi) Seeds

Hispid pocket mouse (C. hispidus) Seeds

Nelson's pocket mouse (C. nelsoni) Fruits Southern banner-tailed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys phillipsii) Fruits

Banner-tailed kangaroo rat (D. spectabilis) Pads

Mexican spiny pocket mouse (Liomys irroratus) Fruits

Galápagos rice rat (Oryzomys galapagoensis) Seeds

Rock mouse (Peromyscus difficilis) Fruits

Pinyon mouse (P? truei) Fruits

Deer mouse (P sp.) Seeds

Hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus) Pads

White-throated packrat (Neotoma albigula) Pads, fruits

Goldman's packrat (N. goldmani) Fruits

Desert packrat (N. lepida) Pads

Black rat (Rattus rattus) Seeds

North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) Fruits

Coyote (Canis latrans) Fruits

Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) Fruits

American black bear (Ursus americanus) Pads, fruits

Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) Fruits

Dalquest (1953)

Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986)

Weed Section (1940) Weed Section (1940)

Long et al. (1974); Hansen (1978); Spaulding and Martin (1979) Darnell-Smith (1919)

Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986); Hoffman et al. (1993) MacCracken and Hansen (1984) Vorhies and Taylor (1933)

Vorhies and Taylor (1933); Timmons (1942); Riegel (1941); MacCracken and Hansen (1984); Hoffmeister (1986); Hoffman et al. (1993); E. Mellink and M. Riojas-Lopez (unpublished observations) Bear and Hansen (1966); Flinders and Hansen (1972), cited in Dunn et al. (1982) Hoffmeister (1986) Bailey (1931)

Riegel (1941); Lehman (1984) Hoffmeister (1986) Janzen (1986) Hoffmeister (1986) Vaughan (1967) Hoffmeister (1986) Blair (1937)

Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986) Vorhies and Taylor (1922)

Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986) Thorton (1971) Dalquest (1953)

Janzen (1986) Lehman (1984)

Vorhies and Taylor (1940); Dalquest (1953); Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986); Rangel and Mellink (1993)

Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986) Hoffmeister (1986) Eliasson (1968) Hoffmeister (1986)

Lehman (1984); Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986); McLure et al. (1995) Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986) Hoffmeister (1986); McClinton et al. (1992); Hellgren (1993)

Leopold (1959); Hoffmeister (1986)

(continued on next page)

Mammals (continued)


Part(s) consumed


Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

White-nosed coati (Nasua narica) North American badger (Taxidea taxus) Hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura) Mammoth (Mammuthus sp.) Feral burro (Equus asinus) Wild boar (Sus scrofa) Collared peccary (Pecari tajacu)

Camel (Camelus dromedarius) Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

White-tailed deer (O. virginianus)

Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)

American bison (Bison bison) Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)

Steenbok (Raphicerus campestris) Feral goat (Capra hircus)


Fruits Fruits Fruits Fruits

Stems, pads Pads

Pads, petals, fruits


Pads, fruits Pads, fruits

Pads, fruits

Fruits Pads, fruits


Stems, pads

Dalquest (1953); Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986); Lehman (1984) Hoffmeister (1986)

Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986) Davis et al. (1984)

Krausman et al. (1989); Hicks andMauchamp (1995) Baber and Coblentz (1987)

Dalquest (1953); Eddy (1961); Zervanos and Hadley (1973); Everitt et al. (1981); Bissonette (1982); Sowls (1984); Corn and Warren (1985); Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986); Hoffmeister (1986); Janzen (1986); Luevano et al. (1991); Martinez-Romero and Mandujano (1995) Janzen (1986)

Krausman (1978); Janzen (1986); Krausman et al. (1989)

Quinton and Horejst (1977); Arnold and Drawe (1979); Everitt and Gonzalez (1979); Quinton et al. (1979); Everitt et al. (1981); Gonzalez-Espinoza and Quintana-Ascencio (1986); Hoffmeister (1986); Luevano et al. (1991)

Russell (1964); Stelfox and Vriend (1977); Sexson et al. (1981); Janzen (1986) Janzen (1986)

Hoffmeister (1986); Dodd and Brady (1988); Krausman et al. (1989) Marais (1939)

Eliasson (1968); Thorton (1971); Hicks and Mauchamp (1995)

Consumption of Vegetative Structures

Four of the nine reptiles that forage on nopales consume their cladodes (pads). These include two tortoises and two land iguanas (scientific names also in Table 7.1). Only 16% of bird species consume the pads, but at least 43% of mammal species, including the Pleistocene Shasta ground sloth and mammoth, do, or did, so. Consumption of vegetative structures is mostly restricted to the pads for mammals, and exclusively so for reptiles (Table 7.2). Only black-tailed jackrabbits, Botta's pocket gopher, and feral burros and goats consume trunks and/or roots. Opuntia pads are a staple for only a few species (packrats, rabbits and jackrabbits, javelina, Galápagos tortoise, Galápagos land iguanas, and occasionally deer), although in some cases they only become a staple under drought conditions. Many of the consumers eat platyopuntias only sporadically.

Cladode Preferences

Most studies reporting nopales in herbivore diets derive their data from fecal analysis, which does not allow for knowledge about differences in preference for different cladodes of the plant. However, a difference in the palata-bility of young versus old cladodes would be expected. Indeed, Berlandier's tortoise prefers the younger, more tender cladodes that have fewer spines (Rose and Judd 1982). In contrast, rabbits and black-tailed jackrabbits consume the outer cladodes of Opuntia violacea var. macrocentra

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