Lunar and temperature effects on activity of free-living desert hamsters ( Phodopus roborovskii, Satunin 1903)
Time management of truly wild hamsters was investigated in their natural habitat in Alashan desert, Inner Mongolia, China during summer of 2009, 2010, and 2012. Duration of activity outside their burrows, duration of foraging walks, and nocturnal inside stays were analyzed with the aim to elucidate impact of moon, ambient, and soil temperature. Animal data were determined using radio frequency identification (RFID) technique; for that purpose, individuals were caught in the field and marked with passive transponders. Their burrows were equipped with integrated microchip readers and photosensors for the detection of movements into or out of the burrow. Lunar impact was analyzed based on moon phase (full, waning, new, and waxing moons) and moon disk size. A prolongation of aboveground activity was shown with increasing moon disk size (Spearman ρ = 0.237; p = 0.025) which was caused by earlier onsets (ρ =-0.161; p = 0.048); additionally, foraging walks took longer (Pearson r = 0.037; p = 0.037). Temperature of different periods of time was analyzed, i.e., mean of whole day, of the activity phase, minimum, and maximum. Moreover, this was done for the current day and the previous 3 days. Overall, increasing ambient and soil temperatures were associated with shortening of activity by earlier offsets of activity and shorter nocturnal stays inside their burrows. Most influential temperatures for activity duration were the maximum ambient temperature, 3 days before (stepwise regression analysis R = 0.499; R 2 = 0.249; F = 7.281; p = 0.013) and soil temperature during activity phase, 1 day before ( R = 0.644; R 2 = 0.283; F = 7.458; p = 0.004).