Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde

Published by Elsevier
Online ISSN: 1616-5047
Publications
Article
The Chinese jumping mouse Eozapus setchuanus (Pousargues, 1896) is endemic to the eastern border of the Tibetan plateau in China. It belongs to the Dipodidae family (Zapodinae sub-family) (Wilson and Reeder, 2005), among which the monotypic genus Eozapus is endemic to central China (Wilson and Reeder, 2005). Only about a dozen specimens are known to have been collected and deposited in Museums (Nowak, 1999). They come from elevations of 3,000–4,000 m, and stream bank in mountainous cool forests is the putative preferred habitat described by Nowak (1999). Still now, this species is reported to be rarely collected (Sung, 1998, in Amori and Gippoliti, 2003). Almost all published information concerns small mammal inventories or checklists at the regional scale, and atlases in which the presence of E. setchuanus is reported (Zhang, 1997; Wang, 2003; Qi et al., 2004; Zhang and Hu, 2004; Liu et al., 2005; Qi et al., 2005; Smith and Xie, 2008). To the best of our knowledge, no detailed information exists on its habitat requirements, life history traits, or population status. These data are however needed since the IUCN (World Conservation Union) designates E. setchuanus as vulnerable (category VU A1c), facing a high risk of extinction in the medium-term future because of human induced forest loss and degradation (Baillie, 1996). Its status was assessed in 1996, and its population trend is unknown (Baillie, 1996). Conservation actions towards this species must be grounded on a detailed knowledge about its ecology. We report descriptive data on E. setchuanus which were collected by our research team as part of small mammal community surveys conducted in Central China between 1996 and 2005 (Giraudoux et al., 1998; Giraudoux et al., 2003; Giraudoux et al., 2006; Raoul et al., 2006). Details of trapping procedure are given by Giraudoux et al. (1998) and Raoul et al. (2006). Animals were sampled in July 1996, September 2003, June 2004, and September 2005. We compare these results with information available from the literature. Museum specimens were also used as information source. We provide information about life-history traits and habitat of E. setchuanus and present the first description of its karyotype.
 
Article
The spatial distribution of roosts in relation to foraging habitats has never been investigated for Vespertilio murinus and the nocturnal roosts used by this species remain unknown. In order to improve knowledge of the species' ecology and to provide tools for its conservation, we mapped each known day roost of a breeding population located at the western limits of the species' distribution and measured the shortest distance between the roosting sites and the foraging habitats. We also radio-tracked 7 females in different reproductive states in order to identify, to quantify the utilisation and to assess the biological importance of their nocturnal roosts. Our results revealed that the day roosts were located close to a large lake and that the bats roosted mainly in trees of a riparian forest during the night. Implications for the conservation of this bat species are discussed.
 
Article
SummaryOver several decades American mink (Mustela vison) colonised large parts of northern Eurasia where they occupied species-specific habitats and caused severe problems in indigenous wild life communities. These populations originated from accidental ranch mink escapes or deliberate release. It is of general interest to characterise their taxonomic state in contrast to individuals from North America. Therefore, comparative investigations were accomplished on skulls of adult mink with Canadian and Belarus origin using 18 parameters and the total body weight. The diverse parameters were allometrically analysed in relation to greatest skull length and to body size additionally. As a result the Belarus mink skulls are significantly different from the Canadian and the degree of difference is largely above the level between Canadian subspecies (e. g., M. vison lacustris versus M. v. energumenos). Independent of body size Belarus mink skulls clearly are shorter in the facialis part including tooth row and evidently smaller in brain cavity size. The differences are identical with intraspecific changes due to the process of domestication leading from the wild to the ranch mink. Altogether the Belarus individuals still resemble ranch mink in skull configuration although being feralised for many generations. Zoological consequences of this fact are further discussed and the scientific name Mustela vison f. dom. fera is proposed to characterise the Eurasian wild populations and discriminate these from the autochthonous ancestors in North America.
 
Article
SummaryRhagomys rufescens is one of the rarest species of the South American mammalian fauna. This scarcity has determined a lack of studies on the natural history and systematic relationships of this presumptive Atlantic forest endemic. Here we report on two recently collected specimens of Rhagomys rufescens, redescribing its morphology and discussing its phylogenetic relationships on the basis of Cytochrome b sequence data. Morphological comparisons with selected Atlantic forest species reveal that R. rufescens displays a remarkably divergent set of character states, such as a unique molar design with diagonally projected cusps and an extremely reduced first digit of hindfoot with a nail instead of a claw, resembling an additional plantar pad. These and other morphological features are suggestive of an arboreal habitus and, at least with respect to its molar morphology, a rather insectivorous diet. Molecular analysis did not allow unequivocal allocation of Rhagomys either to the oryzomyine or to the thomasomyine suprageneric assemblages, as a result of its high level of evolutionary divergence. Rhagomys seems to represent a rather divergent lineage with no clear relation to any extant sigmodontine tribe.
 
Article
The present study aimed at assessing genetic purity of black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) at Abe Bailey Nature Reserve, Gauteng Province, South Africa, using a multilocus microsatellite approach. Five loci were studied in black and blue (C. taurinus) wildebeest, the latter being a closely related species and known to produce hybrids with the morphologically very similar black wildebeest. In fact, the entire national black wildebeest population of South Africa potentially contains a significant proportion of introgressed blue wildebeest genes. In our case, eight out of 39 alleles were unique to black and 22 to blue wildebeest, with nine alleles shared between pure populations of the two species in line with their taxonomic proximity. A possible limited past introgression of blue wildebeest genes into the Abe Bailey population, corresponding to documents on population history, was only supported by the presence of a single allele otherwise exclusively found in samples of four pure blue but not in samples of two pure black wildebeest control populations. However, an assignment test and coefficients of population divergence did not support an extended introgression of C. taurinus alleles into the C .gnou population under study. Average heterozygosity at Abe Bailey proved to be intermediate between black and blue wildebeest, the latter species generally harbouring more genetic variation than the former owing to larger population sizes and the absence of population bottlenecks in historical times. The implications of our data are discussed with reference to the persistence of introgressed genes and the conservation of pure black wildebeest gene pools.
 
Article
SummaryEuropean rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus, are the basic prey of several endangered predators and an important hunting bag in the area of its origin in southwestern Europe. Conversely, they are considered an undesirable species in other areas where they were introduced. Therefore, there is great interest in understanding the factors that influence population dynamics and abundance of this species. I studied the effects of relatively common heavy rains on inter-annual variations in rabbit density in four habitats of Doñana National Park and surrounding areas (southwestern Spain) during several years when rainfall was either lower or higher than average. I estimated spring and autumn rabbit densities by line transect sampling between autumn 1993 and autumn 1998, and counted rabbit warrens and entrances in two of the habitats (one with and the other without scrubland vegetation) in 1995, 1996 and 1997. Rabbit density significantly decreased in all habitats during the rainy years, densities being on average 5.3 and 4.6 times lower for spring and autumn censuses, respectively. Both number of warrens and entrances significantly decreased after two consecutive years of heavy rain in both habitat types, although in the scrubland habitats some recovery was observed during the second consecutive year of heavy rains. The area where warrens were apparently free of the effects of rains was only between 2.7 and 3.8% in the open habitat and 21.5% in the scrubland. At least for the open habitat, no clear relationship was observed between the height above sea level and whether warrens were affected by rain or not. The results indicate that heavy rains may be an important factor decreasing rabbit density, at least in flat areas, by negatively acting on warrens during the breeding period.
 
Article
SummaryThe relationship between the abundance of two rodents, the wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus and the Algerian mouse Mus spretus, and habitat characteristics were studied in Great Kabylia (Northern Algeria) at the end of the breeding season, when mice densities were at their highest level. Eleven habitat characteristics were recorded to describe 18 sampling sites. A linear multiple regression analysis revealed that the abundance of wood mice associated with rocks and stone blocks, and with low woody vegetation. Algerian mice were associated with a low cover of high woody vegetation, and with bare ground. Other habitat characteristics, such as modification of land by human activities, were also important and affected the abundance of these two species. These patterns are discussed in relation to the feeding habits and the anti-predatory behaviour of the species. The interspecific relationships of the two species are hypothesised.
 
Article
Riverine refuging by non-human primates, with focus on proboscis monkeys, was studied in a forest along the Menanggul River, Sabah, Malaysia from May 2005 to 2006. The results of the primate census indicated that not only proboscis monkeys but also sympatric primates inhabiting the study site preferred to utilize the riverine habitat for night-time sleeping, though the frequency of riverine usage was different among these sympatric primates. Four predation-related events in the study site and two additional predation reports at other study sites involving clouded leopards suggest a relatively high predation pressure in proboscis monkeys relative to other sympatric primates. Riverine refuging, which represents a strategy of long-range visibility, may provide non-human primates including proboscis monkeys with the common benefit of an effective means of predation avoidance. In addition, a one-male group of proboscis monkeys was studied to clarify the effects of food availability and air temperature on riverine refuging. Proboscis monkeys spent more time in the inland habitat, though the food availability was not much different between riverine and inland habitats, indicating that food availability is not a fundamental factor in their preference for riverine habitat. Air temperature only had a small effect on their preference for the riverine habitat. However, to clarify the reasons why riverine refuging is more common in proboscis monkeys than in sympatric primates, further investigation is needed.
 
Article
Non-geographic morphometric variation, particularly at the level of sexual dimorphism and ontogenetic (age-related) variation, has been documented in rodents, and useful for establishing whether to analyse sexes separately or together, and for selecting adult specimens for subsequent data recording and analysis. However, such studies have largely been based on traditional morphometric analyses of linear measurements that mainly focus on overall size, rather than shape-related morphometric variation. Unit-free, landmark/outline-based geometric morphometric analyses are considered to offer a more appropriate tool for assessing shape-related morphometric variation. In this study, we used geometric cranial morphometric analysis to assess the nature and extent of sexual dimorphism and age variation within the Tete veld rat, Aethomys ineptus (Thomas and Wroughton, 1908) from southern Africa and the African Nile rat, Arvicanthis niloticus (Desmarest, 1822) from Sudan. The results obtained were in turn compared with previously published results based on independent geometric and traditional cranial morphometric data from the same sampled populations examined in the present study. While our geometric morphometric results detected statistically significant sexual dimorphism in cranial shape within Ar. niloticus only, previously published results based on traditional morphometric data failed to detect significant sexual dimorphism within this species. However, similar to previously published traditional morphometric data, our geometric morphometric results detected statistically significant age-related variation in cranial shape and size within both Ae. ineptus and Ar. niloticus, with individuals of age classes 5 and 6 being considered to represent adult specimens. Our results highlight the importance of carefully evaluating both size- and shape-related non-geographic morphometric variation prior to the analysis of geographic variation and the delineation of species. Erroneous conclusions of non-geographic variation may have implications in the interpretation of geographic and evolutionary processes that may be responsible for morphological differences at both the inter- and intra-specific levels.
 
Article
In this study, information concerning home range size and overlap of Calomys venustus (Thomas, 1894), in relation to sex, population size, and breeding periods is provided. The present study was carried out on a railway bank in southern Córdoba Province (Argentina), between October 1994 and September 1997, using the capture-mark-recapture method. Home range size in C. venustus depended on breeding period and population size, and was independent of sex. The degree of home range overlap was dependent on breeding and non-breeding periods and overlap type (intra- or intersexual), but was independent of population density. During the breeding period, females showed a small degree of intrasexual home range overlap. In general, male home ranges largely overlapped with females. The conclusion is that differences in home range size of C. venustus could be determined by season and population size. Moreover, the degree of inter- and intrasexual home range overlap during the breeding period suggested that males and females of C. venustus use space differently. Females did not share their home range with other females, while males fully shared it with both sexes, and male spacing is influenced by female distribution.
 
Article
The European roe deer population in Portugal is on the southwestern edge of its distribution. Understanding limiting factors that act on these populations enlightens both local aspects concerning their conservation and wider scale aspects of the species bioclimatic envelope, which is crucial for being better able to predict the impacts of environmental change. Accordingly, a survey was conducted to explore roe deer distribution in a 75,000 ha area located in Trás-os-Montes region, a Mediterranean landscape in the northeast of Portugal. Pellet-group counts were used to examine how roe deer distribution was related to habitat structure and composition, landscape structure, and human disturbance. The analysis considered two spatial scales: habitat patch and the wider landscape. At the patch scale, roe deer distribution was positively associated with high density of shrubs and with increasing distance from roads. At the landscape scale, roe deer distribution was negatively associated with spatial heterogeneity, namely mean shape index. Our findings suggest that landscape structure, vegetation composition and distance to roads are all important factors influencing roe deer distribution, highlighting the importance of multi-scale approaches.
 
Article
SummaryThe purpose of this study was to assess the occurrence of food preferences in captive pacas, a frugivorous New World rodent species, and to analyse whether these preferences correlate with nutrient composition. Using a two-alternative choice test six Agouti paca were repeatedly presented with all possible binary combinations of 12 types of food which are part of their diet in captivity and found to display the following rank order of preference: mango > avocado > melon > papaya > banana > orange > pineapple > tomato > apple > cucumber > carrot > chayote. Correlational analyses revealed that this preference ranking showed a significant positive correlation with total energy content, irrespective of the source of energy as neither total carbohydrate content nor protein or lipid content were significantly correlated with food preference. Further, food preferences were significantly negatively correlated with water content. No other significant correlations between food preferences and any other macro- or micronutrient were found. These results suggest that pacas, despite their dietary specialisation on ripe and carbohydrate-rich fruits, are opportunistic feeders with regard to maximizing their net gain of energy.
 
Article
Long-term monitoring of small mammal populations is very important to understand the variations in temporal abundance on a large time scale, which are related to ecological, economic and epidemiological phenomena. The aim of this study is to monitor the populations of the marsupials Didelphis aurita and Philander frenatus and the rodents Nectomys squamipes, Akodon cursor and Oligorysomys nigripes in a locality of typical Brazilian rural landscape, Sumidouro Municipality, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. A mark-recapture study was conducted during five years. We analyzed the population dynamics, the reproduction and age structure of these species. Both marsupials presented higher population sizes in the end of wet period and beginning of the dry period, which can be explained by the seasonal reproduction which begins in the middle of the dry period and ends in the last months of the wet period. N. squamipes reproduced throughout the year but mostly during rainy periods, due to the close association of this rodent to resources found in the water. Higher survivorship and recruitment rates were in the end of the wet season. The rodent A. cursor had an opportunist reproduction, resulting in high turnover rates. Survivorship increased with the effects of the dry periods. O. nigripes showed a clear annual pattern of population cycle with peaks during the dry season. The rodents did not show potential to present outbreaks and become agricultural pests. The annual population cycles of O. nigripes and the unique peak of A. cursor population during five years highlight attention to their importance as wild reservoirs of the hantavirus disease. Their ecological characteristics associated to their opportunistic behavior make these species prone to be good reservoirs of zoonoses.
 
Article
SummaryFeeding habits of sympatric species of small mammals in agroecosystems of central Argentina were analysed using micro-histological analysis of stomach contents. All small mammal species were omnivores, but species changed their diets in relation to the habitat disturbance level. Calomys species showed more dietary overlap in greatly and moderately disturbed habitats than in less disturbed habitats. Calomys species and Akodon dolores behaved in opposite ways. The high degree of dietary overlap among Calomys species was explained by the chance disturbance hypothesis, and their low degree of dietary overlap by classical resource partitioning. The high dietary overlap between Calomys species and A. dolores was explained via the generalization-specialization hypothesis.
 
Land cover in the region of the Una Biological Reserve and Ecoparque de Una (insert, right), northeastern Brazil (left, lines indicate state borders). The study site is located to the east of Una Biological Reserve (circle). 
Minimum convex polygon (MCP) home ranges of the tree radio-tracked animals showing the main land cover types as well as opportunist sightings of other maned sloths (dotted circles). 
Home range (kernel method) of the three tagged animals showing the land cover types. The concentric contours (kernels) represent from outside in, 95, 50, and 5% of the utility density distribution. See Methods for details. 
Article
Sloths are arboreal mammals strictly dependent upon forested habitats. The southern part of the state of Bahia in northeastern Brazil harbors important forest remnants and the highest genetic diversity known for the maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus), an endangered species endemic to the Atlantic forest. Large extents of cacao agroforests (cabrucas) connected to forest patches mitigate the effects of fragmentation in this region. We radio-tracked three maned sloths during 40 months in a cabruca at the vicinity of Una Biological Reserve, southern Bahia, and estimated their home range using two commonly employed estimators (minimum convex polygon (MCP) and kernel). Overall cabrucas comprised a significant portion of the home range of the three study animals (MCP: 7–100%) and at least a third of the areas of more intensive use (kernel: 27–99%). The tagged sloths used cabrucas more than expected according to the availability of this habitat in their home range and in the surrounding landscape. In addition to the tagged individuals, maned sloths were observed five times in the study area, twice in cabrucas. Eleven tree species present in cabrucas were used as food sources by maned sloths. Results indicate that biologically rich cacao agroforests immersed in a landscape still largely composed of native forests, as is the case here, can provide habitat for the maned sloth. This finding spells good news for the conservation of this species, as southern Bahia is one of the most important strongholds for the maned sloth. However, further actions are necessary to protect the species from local extinction, including active management of protected areas, forest fragments, cabrucas and pastures in an integrated, landscape-level manner.
 
Geographic map of the Central European regions mentioned in the text. 1: western Central Europe, 2: the Alps, 3: southern Germany/Czech Republic, 4: western Germany, 5: eastern Germany, 6: northern Germany/ Denmark, 7: Poland. 
Subdivision and timescale (BP=years before present) of the Late Pleistocene and the Holocene (after von Koenigswald 2002).
Spatial and temporal pattern of moose occurrence in different Central European regions during the Holocene.
Numbers of moose records in different central European areas (numbers in left column refer to geographic areas in Fig. 1) and Holocene periods (after the data base Holocene History of European Vertebrate Fauna; cf. Benecke 1999).
Article
Moose (Alces alces L.) were among the first Large mammals to recotonize Central Europe after the Last glaciation. Already during the Allerod they established themselves in most parts of the area. In the early Holocene their distribution range extended from the Pyrenees to Denmark and from Austria to Great Britain and also covered eastern Central Europe where they still occur today. In the Preboreal, the moose slowly vanished from the southwestern parts of its distribution range, Leading to its extinction in France and, later, in England. During the Atlantic period, the moose died out in Large parts of Denmark and population densities apparently decreased in the rest of Central Europe as well. Around the birth of Christ only relict populations were left in western Central Europe, which finally became extinct in early medieval times. In Thuringia and in the region northeast of the river Elbe as well as in central Poland, some stocks persisted until the high and Late Middle Ages. The causes of the gradual extinction in Central Europe during the Holocene are complex. Changes in vegetation, climate and sea-level, the increasing fragmentation of habitat through human activities and hunting were, at different times, important factors. In the recent past, however, moose have repeatedly migrated from the east towards the west. The development of its distribution range since the end of the Second World War as well as experiences with Scandinavian populations show that moose are able to thrive in close proximity to humans and that a future expansion of its distribution range towards the west seems possible. (c) 2005 Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Saugetierkunde. Published by Elsevier GmbH. ALL rights reserved.
 
Article
A total of 472 red deer, Cervus elaphus, from 16 free-ranging populations in France were examined for genetic variability and differentiation at 7 enzyme loci known to be polymorphic in this species. In addiditon, 73 specimens from 14 populations were examined for mtDNA differentiation using 16 six-base cutting restriction enzymes which, on the basis of 69 restriction sites, yielded altogether 5 haplotypes showing a quite variable distribution. Genetic variability within populations was quite similar, especially as far as allozymes are concerned. However, both marker systems revealed considerable genetic differentiation even at a small geographic scale, possibly suggesting that habitat fragmentation has already caused genetic isolation of local populations.
 
Article
As a consequence of persecution and habitat fragmentation, wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris) in Western Europe have experienced a severe reduction in population numbers and sizes. The remaining wildcat populations are considered to be endangered by losses of genetic variability and by hybridisation with free-ranging domestic cats. To investigate genetic diversity within and among wild and domestic cat populations in Germany and to estimate the extent of gene flow between both forms, we analysed a total of 266 individuals. PCR-amplification and sequencing of 322 base pairs of a highly variable part of the mitochondrial control region (HV1) of 244 specimens resulted in 41 haplotypes with 31 polymorphic sites. Additionally, eight microsatellite loci were examined for those 244 cats. Moreover, a total of 46 wildcats and 22 domestic cats could be genotyped for 13 polymorphic out of 31 enzyme loci. Genetic variability in both groups was generally high. Variability in domestic cat populations was higher than in wildcat populations. Almost no differentiation between domestic cat populations could be found (FST for microsatellites=3%). In contrast, wildcat populations differed significantly from one another (FST for microsatellites=9.55%) Within the smaller wildcat populations, a reduction of genetic diversity was detectable with regard to the nuclear DNA. Wildcat and domestic cat mitochondrial haplotypes were separated, suggesting a very low level of maternal gene flow between both forms. In microsatellites and to a somewhat lesser extent in allozymes, wildcats and domestic cats showed distinct differentiation, suggesting an only low extent of past hybridisation in certain populations. The microsatellite data set indicated a significantly reduced effective population size (bottleneck) in the recent past for one German wildcat population.
 
Article
SummaryFrom the birth season in the spring until the beginning of rut in the autumn, individually marked chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra rupicapra) were observed in the Swiss National Park. The focus was on the spatial patterns and habitat characteristics of three chamois classes: females with young, females without young though sexually mature, and adult males.The summer home ranges of females with young were larger and overlapped more than those of females without young. In comparison, males had extremely small territories. Within the study area, some sporadically observed females were never seen to impinge on the home ranges of the regularly observed females. It must be inferred that they belong to other subpopulations. Habitat parameters provided little evidence for individual differences between the members of a given class: females with young, unlike females without young, generally avoided exposed places, whereas males seemed to favour them. There were also distinct grouping patterns: females with young and without young shared their ranges with other females, independently of the animal class they belonged to, but females with young stayed in larger groups than females without young, whereas males were mostly solitary.It is inferred that females with young displayed a spatial behaviour that allows best possible protection and feeding conditions for their young, whereas females without young and males try to build up fat reserves during summer. The competition for food between females with overlapping ranges and the social interactions between males, apparently reduce the survival rate of chamois. Therefore, the territorial behaviour is likely to play an essential role in the natural regulation of the chamois population.
 
The location of the study area, Maraca  Ecological Station, in the State of Roraima, Brazilian Amazon.
Body weight and biomass of the mammalian community in Maraca Â, Roraima, Brazilian Amazon.
Article
A community of middle-sized and larger mammals was studied in a seasonally dry forest in the far north of the Brazilian Amazon. Diurnal and nocturnal surveys were carried out through the linetransect method, in 5 different forest types along a 10-km transect. Data were collected an density, biomass, and use of the forest types, and forest strata by the mammals. The terrestrial community of mammals was more abundant than the arboreal one, with ungulates contributing to the bulk of the biomass, as a result of Maracá being highly seasonal Overall densities were lower than in other sites in the neotropics, varying from 90.2 ind/km2 in mixed forest, to 159.9 ind/km2 in Terra Firme forest, whereas biomass, due to the contribution of large mammals, was much higher (2613.2 kg/km2 in mixed forest, and 4351.6 kg/km2 in Terra Firme forest). This study confirms that the animals surviving in larger numbers in these highly seasonal forests, where food productivity may be very low during the dry season, are those that have larger home ranges and travel longer distances in search of food.
 
Article
Food habits of the American mink Mustela vison were studied based on the analysis of 2364 scat samples, collected at three lakes in Northeastern Poland. The mink preyed on a wide range of prey, but two types of prey, amphibians and fish, dominated in the diet of the mink during all the seasons. Frogs, and first and foremost, the common frog Rana temporaria, were hunted by the mink, mainly from the late autumn until the early spring, and comprised up to 83.9% of the prey biomass (the multiannual average for November-December at the Majcz Wielki Lake). The most frequently eaten fish were cyprinids and percids. Seasonality of fish consumption by mink was not as well pronounced as in the case of amphibians. At the first two lakes, fish were hunted mainly in the winter and in the early spring, whereas at the third lake in the summer. The highest multiannual average share of fish in the diet of the mink was recorded in March-April at Lake Tuchlin (69.2% of the prey biomass). Crayfish, which were recorded in the diet mainly in the late spring and in the summer, comprised up to 59.6% of the prey biomass for May-June at the Majcz Wielki Lake. Birds, mammals and insects were supplementary food for the mink. During the breeding season, mink predation on waterfowl and their broods was correlated with the abundance of crested grebe Podiceps cristatus and coot Fulica atra nests in the area. The diet of individual mink varied considerably and the share of birds in the diet of the mink was related to the distance from individual mink dens to the colonies of waterfowl. In May-June, adult birds, chicks and eggs comprised up to 73.6% of the prey biomass of a female mink that inhabited a den located 100 m from the colony's edge. At all three lakes, the diet of the mink was the most diverse in the late spring and in the summer. In May-August, the values of the mink food niche breadths were about twice those noted in winter months.
 
Article
The effect of an artificial, unchanging photoperiod regime was examined in comparison to a natural photoperiodic regime on the reproductive pattern in Antechinus flavipes, a small dasyurid marsupial which in the wild has a short, highly synchronized mating period. Females held under a photoperiod of LD 12:12 showed delayed sexual maturity and only one individual entered oestrus, about 3 weeks after females under natural photoperiod. Oestrus could be induced in the remaining females by increasing the photoperiod by 1 min/day for at least 3-4 weeks. In contrast to the females, males under artificial and natural photoperiod showed a similar pattern of maturity and decline of reproductive condition and senility. Only some aspects of sexual maturity were delayed and others were unsynchronized in males under LD 12:12 regime compared to the males held under the natural photoperiod. Our study suggests that, especially in females, changing photoperiod is important in synchronizing reproductive events in A. flavipes.
 
Velocity of mature wild guinea pigs (n = 9) in trot and gallop over a 4 m distance; means of individual means (for trot based on 5±13 runs each (mean 7.7); for gallop based on 23 to 104 runs each (mean 47)). Min = minimal speed (downward pointing open triangle); mean = mean speed (dots); max = maximal speed observed for a given animal (upward pointing open triangles). Group means indicated by horizontal bars. 
Relative growth in length (tip of nose to end of vertebral column) and mass of 21 juvenile wild guinea pigs from day 1 (birth) to day 60 (means ± SD). Note the positive allometry of length at birth. 
Female running velocities before and after parturition, mass after parturition and mass loss due to it. Mean mass loss due to parturition amounted to 31.3% of post-parturient mass.
Article
SummaryYoung of precocial species depend on their locomotory abilities to follow their mother to foraging areas, and to avoid predators. We measured for the wild guinea pig (Cavia aperea), a relatively small species (adult mass 400–600 g) with particularly precocial young, how running ability develops with age and how it compares to adult performance. We also asked to what extent females are impaired in their locomotor performance when pregnant, and tested how high adults can jump. Animals used trot and gallop for most locomotion except when calmly foraging. They jumped to a maximal height of 60cm from a standing start. Maximal escape speeds of adults averaged 4.12 m/sec, peak velocity measured was 6.0 m/sec. Newborn young, weighing only 77 g, were able to run at speeds up to 2.55 m/sec, and reached adult levels (about 4.0 m/sec) when only 20 days old. This is partly explained by a positive allometry of leg length in comparison to mass. Locomotion of wild guinea pigs develops in a highly precocial manner and appears adapted to allow short bouts of high burst speed. Running speeds of adults are similar to those of similarly sized sciurids.
 
Article
Although it is broadly accepted that small mammals often climb trees, only few studies explore arboreality in woodland rodents systematically. Here, we investigate the three-dimensional habitat use of wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus and bank voles Myodes glareolus at three different sites in Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire, under varying environmental conditions. A total of 12 trapping sessions was carried out between March and September 2003 and 2004. During each session, 100 Longworth live-traps with shrew escape holes were set in a 25-point-grid for 3 succeeding nights. Each time, 50 traps were placed on the ground, and 50 in surrounding trees at heights of 30-250 cm. Wood mice were significantly more arboreal than bank voles, and male wood mice spent significantly more time in trees than did females. Arboreality in bank voles occurred only under high population densities and food shortage, and both species were significantly more arboreal in woodland with dense understorey. Thus we conclude that while arboreality is predominantly a result of inter- and intra-specific competition, of the two species we studied, only wood mice, being more agile, can afford to utilize trees without getting caught by predators, and that sex differences are due to male territoriality. Estimates of population sizes and distribution, as well as studies of inter-specific interactions and socio-spatial behaviour are presumed to be affected by these results, and are currently likely to underestimate rodent numbers considerably. (c) 2007 Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Saugetierkunde. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
 
Article
SummaryAlthough there have been several reports on the structures of the lacrimal apparatus of the Chiroptera, there has been very little discussion about its morphological diversity and potential phylogenetic implications. Histological sections were used to document the anatomy of the lacrimal-conducting apparatus (LCA) in representatives of 44 chiropteran genera, including, for the first time members of Taphozous, Nycteris, Macroderma, Lavia, Hipposideros, Lonchophylla, Noctilio, Pteronotus, and Furipterus. To reconstruct the evolutionary history of the bat LCA, the distributions of the LCA features were mapped, using the computer program MacClade, onto the phylogenetic tree of SIMMONS and GEISLER (1998). The lacrimal-conducting apparatus in the Chiroptera ground plan, characterized by a well-developed nasolacrimal duct and a narial, nasolacrimal duct opening, is very similar to other eutherians. Nevertheless, several evolutionary transformations have taken place within the Microchiroptera: The nycterids and noctilionoids (phyllostomids + (mormoopids + noctilionids)) are characterized by apomorphic reduction of the LCA. However, there seems to be no correlation between the absence of the LCA and the life style of these bat groups. In rhinopomatids, rhinolophids and some megadermatids, the nasolacrimal duct is truncated, opening in a ventromedial recess of the inferior nasal meatus close to the entrance of the nasopalatine duct and the vomeronasal organ. Similarly, among Nataloids (e.g., Natalus and Thyroptera), the nasolacrimal duct is shorter and opens into the inferior nasal meatus, but it has no connection to the nasopalatine duct. In emballonurids, in which the vomeronasal organ is absent, the nasolacrimal duct opens into the nasopalatine duct (e.g., Taphozous, Saccolaimus) or very close to its nasal entrance (e.g., Coleura, Cormura, Rhynchonycteris).
 
Article
The diet of feral cats in the main habitats of the Canary Islands is composed of introduced mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. However, introduced mammals constitute the main source of biomass consumed, followed in importance by reptiles and birds. PCA analysis of biomass revealed the ordination of three different groups, corresponding to the diet in the laurel forest (La Gomera), thermophilous forest (El Hierro) and one large group that include the rest of habitat types. A similar pattern was observed when these habitats were analyzed in a single island (La Palma). Oryctolagus cuniculus was an important prey in practically all habitats, while Rattus rattus was frequently captured in the laurel forest, Mus musculus domesticus in the open shrubs (both xeric and high mountain), reptiles (mainly lizards genus Gallotia) in the open habitats of Tenerife, birds play a relative role in forest habitats, and large invertebrates (basically Orthoptera and Coleoptera) in the three forest habitats and in the xerophytic shrub of Fuerteventura. Morisita's index of similarity of diet showed maximum differences between the forest habitats (pine and thermophilous vs. laurel forest), indicating an important heterogeneity in the diet of feral cats in these environments. Shrub habitats showed smaller values of Levin's niche breadth than those from the forest habitats, showing a broader diet in the latter. Lastly, the diet of feral cats on the Canary Islands follows the general pattern of other islands located at similar latitude and mainly composed by rabbits and mice. However, specific preys such as lizards, rats or birds, play an important role in particular habitats in which they are abundant.
 
Article
The systematics and distribution of South American sigmodontine rodents a matter of continuous revision and debate. The silky mice, genus Eligmodontia Cuvier, 1837, are among the most specialized murid rodents endemic to South America and its diversification for desert existence is associated with the uplift of the Andes and the early development of arid landscapes. Aiming to clarify the systematics of the species of silky mice occurring in the driest portion of the temperate Monte Desert in Argentina, qualitative and quantitative external and cranial characters, cytogenetics and molecular relationships, were studied. We characterized three karyotypes of Eligmodontia; two of which are described for the first time, and allocated them to previously named species. E. moreni Thomas, 1896 (2n=52 and FN=50), E. typus Cuvier, 1837 (2n=44 and FN=44) and E. marica Thomas, 1918. The later shows the same diploid number of E. typus, but its X-chromosome is not METACENTRIC but ACROCENTRIC . A discriminant analysis of external and cranial data separates E. moreni from E. typus and E. marica. Whereas these last ones show some degree of overlap. The morphological and chromosomal differentiation of Eligmodontia is sustained by DNA distances. Phylogenetic analyses show two major clades. One formed by E. moreni, E. puerulus and E. hirtipes, sharing a high FN and a northern distribution, and THE other formed by E. typus, E. marica and E. morgani with low FN and a central-southern distribution. Two centers of diversification are proposed to explain the evolution of Eligmodontia.
 
Article
In the temperate desert of Argentina, the combined action of climatic and anthropogenic factors has contributed to the formation of a highly heterogeneous landscape. In the central region of the Monte desert, four small mammal species (Eligmodontia typus, Calomys musculinus, Akodon molinae and Graomys griseoflavus) coexist and show different habitat uses in response to spatial variability. Three main habitat types are present in the region: mesquite forest, the creosotebush community and sand dunes. These habitat types are present also in the surrounding grazing area. The objective of this study was to determine habitat quality for these species in a protected area (Reserve MaB Ñacuñán) and in the adjacent grazed area. For each species we estimated demographic parameters that are highly correlated to fitness in each habitat, and for both treatments (protected and grazed). We found that the protected area offered a higher quality habitat than the grazed area for all species, but principally A. molinae and G. griseoflavus. At a local scale, we found that A. molinae and C. musculinus clearly showed higher fitness in the more complex habitats as the creosotebush community and the mesquite forest. In contrast, for E. typus, open and simplest patches, such as sand dunes, were optimal for its survival and reproduction.
 
Article
SummaryWe studied the density, physical attributes, and commensal fauna of nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) burrows in northern Belize. One hundred and five burrows were found in pine forest (n=74) and savanna (n=31). Mean burrow density was significantly greater in pine forest (27.0 burrows/ha) than in savanna (5.8 burrows/ha). There were no significant differences in mean burrow entrance dimensions (height and width) between pine forest and savanna. Burrow entrance dimensions in northern Belize were smaller than those in temperate North America. Air and burrow temperatures were positively correlated. Burrow temperatures were significantly less than air temperatures suggesting burrows are important refugia from high dry season temperatures. Burrow orientation did not differ significantly from uniformity in either habitat; however, a southern orientation was notably rare among savanna burrows. Seven species of commensal fauna were found in armadillo burrows.
 
Diagrammatic representation of the study site where groups of Artibeus lituratus were observed and recorded. Roman numerals correspond to each palm (height in meters). *Note that palm XVI has no leaves. Small Arabic numerals indicate distance (m) between trunks of palm trees. The line along the upper and right margins represents a qualitative assessment of disturbance around palms (the darker the color the more pronounced the disturbance).
Histograms showing the proportion of females observed roosting with individual males during the study period. Numbers between parentheses indicate number of observations (black portions represent red male, white portions represent blue male, and gray portions represent double-blue male). 
Association indices of individually marked Artibeus lituratus (see Martin and Bateson (1993) for a description of association indices)
Article
The roosting behavior of the big fruit-eating bat, Artibeus lituratus (Phyllostomidae, Stenodermatinae) in an Andean region of Venezuela is described. Sixty-four video recordings made at three separate foliage roosts during 1 year showed that group size varied between two and 14 individuals. One male was regularly observed roosting with more females than others, and this male was associated with the highest quality roost, defined here as the highest, most structurally stable, and least disturbed. Males invariably occupied exclusive roosts during the study, whereas females frequently moved among adjacent roosts. The high roost fidelity of males appears to be related to the defense of the highest quality roosts. Because females were observed roosting with each of the three males present at the study site, female groups were considered unstable. We suggest that shuttling movements of individuals may reflect a commonly observed adaptation of foliage roosting bats related to the avoidance of predators and/or parasites. The type of male-female association observed in A. lituratus is consistent with a resource defense polygyny hypothesis. (c) 2007 Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Saugetierkunde. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
 
Article
SummaryMitochondrial DNA cytochrome b (Cytb) gene sequences were used to assess the evolutionary history of the northern red-backed vole, Clethrionomys rutilus, in northeastern Asia. Neighbor-joining and maximum likelihood trees constructed with the Cytb gene sequences (1140 bp) of 27 samples revealed four major local lineages; those represented by haplotypes from central Siberia, far eastern Siberia, Alaska-Kamchatskasol;Sakhalin, and Hokkaido. These lineages differed from one another with sequence divergences ranging from 0.0160 to 0.0298 (Kimura's distance, all substitutions at all codon positions). These findings imply that C. rutilus has inhabited the local areas during a longterm period of the evolutionary time, such as the last one or two million years, as observed in another common species of red-backed vole C. rufocanus with similar geographic distribution. The intraspecies geographic partition, however, differs between the species, implying that these two species have experienced different evolutionary histories in geographic expansion and genetic exchanges among local populations.
 
Article
Metapodials and phalanges of the second to fourth digital ray were measured for the hands and feet of 214 specimens belonging to 45 extant species of hystricognath rodents, encompassing members of all major clades of the radiation. Principal components analysis (PCA), the phalangeal index of the third digital ray in the hands and feet, and the relationship between second and fourth digital ray were used to investigate intrinsic autopodial proportions as well as to provide a base for comparisons between hands and feet. PCA separated cursorial Hystricognathi from arboreal ones, but lead to little distinction in other locomotory modes. Cursors have longer metapodials and shorter phalanges, particularly in their hind limb, while arboreal species have relatively longer manual and pedal phalanges. Terrestrial, scansorial, fossorial, and semi-aquatic species were not clearly distinguished, but there is a tendency towards elongated manual digits and relatively short feet in most fossorial species. Closely related species with similar locomotory habits tend to group together in PCA morphospace, and also have similar phalangeal indices. The results are in agreement with current hypotheses on locomotory adaptations of the hand and foot, and concur with many previous findings on autopodial proportions in arboreal, cursorial, and fossorial species. They also highlight the limited use of autopodial proportions for inferring systematic affinities. The lack of distinction in the majority of species is likely related to the lack of highly specialized locomotory types in Hystricognathi.
 
Article
There is currently no agreement about the suitability of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) as an estimate of individual quality. We investigated the relationship between FA and health, a proxy for individual quality, in captive populations of three endangered gazelle species: Gazella cuvieri, G. dama, and G. dorcas. FA indices including information from sexual (horns) and/or non-sexual ordinary traits were calculated for each individual. Health was assessed using 15 blood parameters, and inbreeding coefficient was also included in the analyses. In the three species, the FA index was significantly related to at least one blood parameter (platelets, mean platelet cell volume, albumin, and lactate dehydrogenase), with levels indicating unhealthy condition in more asymmetric individuals. The exception was the negative relationship between FA and aspartate aminotransferase in ordinary traits of G. cuvieri and G. dama. FA was related to different blood parameters in every species and type of trait. As a large number of diseases can cause abnormal blood parameter levels in humans, we assumed that this also might be the case in gazelles. In general, the results suggest that FA is related to health in the three gazelle species studied, and thus, we concluded that FA can provide useful information about individual quality.
 
Variations in rainfall and air temperature of the study area, Poc Ëo das Antas Biological Reserve, from January 1998 to February 1999 (bars ± monthly rainfall, line ± monthly average temperatures). 
Population sizes (continuous line) and proportion of reproductive females (bars) of Akodon cursor (a) and Bolomys lasiurus (b) in an area of anthropogenic grassland in Poc Ëo das Antas Biological Reserve, from March 1998 to February 1999. The line under the horizontal axis indicates the months corresponding to the dry season. 
Variations in age structure of Akodon cursor (a) and Bolomys lasiurus (b) in an area of anthropogenic grassland in Poc Ëo das Antas Biological Reserve, from March 1998 to February 1999. Shading: juveniles (hatched); adults (black). The line under the horizontal axis indicates the months corresponding to the dry season. 
Population sizes (continuous line), survival (dashed line) and recruitment (dotted line) rates for Akodon cursor (a) and Bolomys lasiurus (b) in an area of anthropogenic grassland in Poc Ëo das Antas Biological Reserve, from March 1998 to February 1999. The line under the horizontal axis indicates the months corresponding to the dry season. 
Population sizes of Oligoryzomys nigripes (dashed line) and Mus musculus (continuous line) captured in an area of anthropic grassland in Poc Ëo das Antas Biological Reserve, from March 1998 to February 1999. The line under the horizontal axis indicates the months corresponding to the dry season. 
Article
Population dynamics and reproduction of four species of muroid rodents (Akodon cursor, Bolomys lasiurus, Oligoryzomys nigripes, and Mus musculus) were studied through capture-mark-recapture in a grassland between fragments of Atlantic Forest from March 1998 to February 1999. A. cursor and B. lasiurus accounted together for 93.5% of all captures. O. nigripes and M. musculus reached highest population sizes by the end of the dry season. A. cursor was most abundant during late drysol;early wet season, however, its population sizes were higher in the wet season than in the dry season. Populations of B. lasiurus were highest during the dry season, although their population levels varied less than those of A. cursor. The differences in the pattern of population fluctuations of the two latter species can be explained by differences in their feeding habits, as B. lasiurus feeds mostly on grass seeds (most abundant during the dry season), whereas the diet of A. cursor includes a high proportion of insects, which are most abundant during the wet season.
 
Article
The diets of sympatric species of opossums coexisting in small (<10 ha) Atlantic Forest fragments were studied at Poço das Antas Biological Reserve, southeastern Brazil. Food items consumed by Caluromys philander and Didelphis aurita were investigated through the analysis of faecal contents, and compared with the diet of Micoureus demerarae analysed in a previous study. The major diet components for all three species were arthropods and fruits, with a high richness of items of both feeding categories; feathers were also found in the diet of D. aurita. The most frequent insect orders overall were Hymenoptera and Coleoptera, and most seeds were from plants of secondary vegetation such as Cecropia and Piper. The diets showed little variation along time and space for all three species. Diets were also similar among species, except for a larger consumption of Arachnida and Diplopoda and a smaller consumption of Lepidoptera by D. aurita when compared to M. demerarae. Diversity of food items was lower for C. philander when compared with either other species. There was a high feeding niche overlap between species, suggesting that differentiation in diet composition would not be enough to allow coexistence of the three species in small fragments. Coexistence may rather be allowed by vertical segregation and/or by differences in prey size. © 2005 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
 
Mean density of the main prey types of Felis caracal in seven plant communities at Postberg Nature Reserve, West Coast National Park, 1990/91. Rodents (= Rhabdomys pumilio) were sampled only in four communities, and on a seasonal basis. , antelope; , hares; , guinea fowl; , francolin; ¨, striped mice.
Mean seasonal percentage contribution of small mammal diversity, density, and biomass in six plant communities in the West Coast National Park. *, diversity; &, density; ~, biomass.
Mean monthly percentage occurrence of rodent species in caracal scats from the (a) Postberg Nature Reserve, (b) freshwater marshes, WCNP, (c) sand dunes, WCNP, and (d) farms adjacent to the West Coast National Park, 1990/91. 
Monthly fluctuations in the composition of the diet of caracal Felis caracal at (a) the freshwater marshes and (b) Postberg Nature Reserve in the West Coast National Park, as deduced from scat analysis. , birds; , insectivores; , hyrax; , antelopes; , reptiles; 
Seasonal fluctuations in the composition of the diet of caracal Felis caracal at (a) the sand dunes, WCNP, and (b) adjacent farms. , bird; ¨, rodent; *, hares; , insectivore; , arthropod; , antelope; 
Article
SummaryIn order to determine whether caracal Felis caracal are specialist or generalist feeders, correlation between prey availability and prey use by caracal was investigated in a conservation area and on small-stock farms. In a coastal arid shrub ecosystem on the South African west coast caracal fed on prey ranging in size and taxa from 1 g insects to 31 kg antelope. As in some other arid areas and ecosystems the most common prey was rodents, especially striped mice Rhabdomys pumilio and bush Karoo rats Otomys unisulcatus, and in addition, birds. The occurrence of particular prey taxa in scats was significantly correlated with their availability, with seasonal trends in both availability and use of prey evident in four habitats sampled. Predation on introduced springbok, and on small stock on farms, was seasonal and of limited extent. Results indicate that at any given time or place caracal take a wide range of prey species but concentrate on those that are most abundant, and are thus generalist feeders.
 
Article
SummaryIndividuals of animal populations that are controlled by food availability should be favored if they were able to reduce the lag phase between the occurrence of high food availability and the production of offspring. Edible dormice (Glis glis), small hibernating rodents from central and southern Europe, show fluctuation in reproductive output that seem to be timed to coincide with future food supply. We report predictable lows of reproductive rates in edible dormice after years of mast fruiting (i.e., when animals are in perfect condition) and high reproductive rates in the spring of years that will see mast fruiting trees (oaks, beech) later in the same year. Because trees are unlikely to produce mast crops two years in a row, we hypothesize that the lack of or the reduced reproduction in the spring after mast years is an adaptation to the predictable low food availability of a “non-mast” year after a mast year. Since, the other way round, there is a high probability that a mast year will follow a non-mast year in central Europe, reproductive success is likely to be increased by reproducing in the spring of the year after a non-mast year, thus anticipating future food supply in fall. In years of no or reduced reproduction males did not develop functional testes after hibernation. Thus, the sexual inactivity of male dormice is likely to be the major cause for reproductive failure.
 
Article
SummaryThis study examines kin recognition and inbreeding avoidance in captive striped mice Rhabdomys pumilio. Weanling females showed accelerated sexual development in terms of increased uterine mass when housed with a strange male rather than with the father. Females also were more likely to produce a litter with a strange male than with their fathers. When litters were cross-fostered at 0-2 days of age, fathers caused accelerated sexual development in and mated with biological daughters raised elsewhere, but unrelated foster daughters were unaffected. Litter size and pre-weaning growth of inbred young were compromised compared to outbred female young, indicating inbreeding depression. Results indicate that father-daughter recognition in R. pumilio occurs by familiarity through association before weaning, thereby providing a mechanism for inbreeding avoidance. The existence of such a mechanism presupposes the possibility of father-daughter association before weaning, perhaps through paternal care, the existence of which is questioned presently in R. pumilio
 
Article
The diet and feeding habits of Eurasian otters Lutra lutra were studied by spraint analysis over a 2- year period, on three sections of the Drava River and three backwaters, in south-west Hungary. The primary food was fish (mean: 89.8% and 87.5% for riverine and backwater habitats, respectively); otters Living in riverine habitats compared to backwaters, consumed more birds (3.9% and 0.7%, respectively), less mammals (0.5% and 0.9%, respectively), Less reptiles and amphibians (5.6% and 10.2%, respectively) and less invertebrates (0.1% and 0.6%, respectively). In riverine habitats otters preyed more frequently on Larger fish than in backwaters, but the main fish prey was small-sized (below 100 g in weight, 85.6% and 91.7%, respectively). On river sections they preyed more frequently on reophil (flow preferring fish, 18.9% and 3.3%, respectively), and Less on stagnophil fish (stagnant waters preferring, 9.8% and 24.5%, respectively) than in backwaters. The main fish prey was eurytopic (tolerant of rivers and stagnant waters, 71.3% and 72.2%, respectively). Preference (by Ivlev's electivity index, E-j) in the Drava River for various fish guilds differed, as the otters preferred eurytopic (E-j= 0.30) and stagnophit fish (E-j= 0.24), and avoided reophil fish (E-j=-0.58). Otters did not threaten the rare, flow preferring fish species and the main diet consisted of economically unimportant species. (c) 2006 Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Saugetierkunde. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
 
Article
The diets of mammals have been investigated primarily through the analysis of faecal samples. In our study we analysed both stomach contents, and rectal faeces from European badgers. This approach enabled a direct comparison of the information derived from these two sources. The dietary components found from each source were the same. However, it was found that, compared to stomach contents, the contribution to the diet, by volume, of plant litter, earthworms, Tipulid larvae and adult Carabid beetles were significantly overestimated by faecal analysis, while those of Noctuid larvae and Carabid beetle larvae were significantly underestimated. The analysis of stomach contents showed clear evidence of seasonality in the consumption of earthworms, Carabid beetle larvae, Tipulid larvae and Noctuid larvae. This seasonality was not as evident when the diet was inferred by the analysis of faeces. We propose that an analysis of stomach contents rather than of faeces, more accurately reflects the relative proportions of ingested food types, and the seasonality of the diet.
 
Article
The diet of the Eurasian badger (Meles meles) in the Republic of Ireland was studied by examination of the stomach contents of 686 badgers, collected between March 2005 and September 2006. It was found that the relative importance of different food types, as indicated by their frequency of occurrence and ingested bulk in the diet, fluctuated seasonally. Tipulid larvae (Cl. Insecta, Ord. Tipulidae) dominated the diet in spring; Anura (Cl. Amphibia) and Aculeata (Ord. Hymenoptera) during the summer; and Noctuid larvae (Cl. Insecta, Ord. Noctuidae) in autumn and winter. Thus this type of foraging behaviour supports the contention that badgers are generalist foragers with seasonal food preferences. This feeding behaviour is more similar to that of badgers in Italy and Spain than to badgers in England.
 
Article
SummaryAir currents were recorded at 44 separate underground locations in 12 badger Meles meles setts (five ‘main setts’ and seven ‘outliers’). Within-sett air movements were strongly positively correlated with, but were from one to three orders of magnitude slower than, corresponding external wind speeds. Within-sett air movements were significantly weaker in sheltered setts than in open setts, and significantly stronger in nest chambers than in tunnels. Main setts were better ventilated than outliers at sampling locations that were relatively deep within a sett (i. e., more than 1m from the nearest entrance). We conclude that wind-induced movement of air within badger setts contributes to ventilation of the interior of the sett, and that large setts are better ventilated than small ones.
 
Article
SummaryActivity of scent glands is often related to an animal's biological status. Here we investigate how endogenous parameters influence activity of the subcaudal gland tissue in European badgers (Meles meles). The large subcaudal glands produce a lipid-rich secretion which badgers frequently use for scent-marking. Earlier studies suggest that the smell of this subcaudal secretion is individual-specific and encodes information about group membership, but does not contain further information about individual-specific parameters (sex, age, body condition etc.). In this study the colour and volume of 975 subcaudal secretion samples collected between January 1996 and January 1999 were investigated and analysed in relation to sex, endocrinological and reproductive status, age, head body length and body condition of the badgers, and seasonality. The analyses show a distinct seasonal pattern, a significant sex difference in the secretion's colour and volume, apparent throughout the year, and a strong influence of individual-specific parameters on the characteristics of the secretion. Thus, we conclude that the subcaudal secretion of the European badger could communicate more information about the marking individual than previously assumed. We propose that the function of subcaudal scent-marking is likely to be two-fold, to provide information about territory occupancy to non-group members at the periphery of territories and to act as an intra-group communication signal in the vicinity of the sett.
 
Article
SummaryScent marking is an important form of communication in badgers (Meles meles). The majority of studies describing faecal and urine scent marking behaviour of badgers have been undertaken in areas of high population density and have concentrated on the use of latrines, where large quantities of faeces and urine accumulate in highly localized areas. However, recent studies suggest that at low population densities, badgers distribute their faecal and urine scent marks in a more dispersed pattern. Here we compare the scent marking behaviour of badgers across a range of population densities in Britain. Badgers placed greater proportions of faeces and urine at latrines with increasing population density, a change consistent with a shift from hinterland to boundary marking. We propose that previous descriptions of badger scent marking behaviour in Britain represent points along a continuum. The implications of the correlations between badger population density and scent marking are discussed in relation to the potential for transmission of bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) from badger excreta to cattle.
 
Article
The ecomorphology of 10 insectivorous bat species at three study zones in western Madagascar was examined using 567 specimens and based on 6 external, 11 cranial, 12 dental, and 11 wing measurements. The three study sites are located along a cline representing 11.6° of latitude. The southern most site has notable differences in vegetational and climatic regimes than the two more northern sites. Principal component analyses were conducted for each of the four datasets to examine the morphological space occupied by each species at the three sites. Most taxa showed clear intra-site separation and little inter-site variation. The exceptions included extensive morphological overlap in two taxa of Triaenops (cranial, dental, and wing), that have allopatric distributions, and between the sympatric Miniopterus manavi and Myotis goudoti (external, cranial, and dental). In the latter case, there was distinct separation in wing shape between these two taxa, which would allow them to exploit local habitats and prey in different manners. The only species that showed considerable inter-site variation was Hipposideros commersoni, which is sexually dimorphic, with individuals from the south being smaller than those in the north.
 
Article
There have been few studies of the structural and evolutionary characteristics of the mitochondrial control region (CR) in rhinolophids, yet this could have important consequences for the interpretation of phylogenetic relationships within this group. Here we sequenced and analyzed the CR of 37 individuals from 12 Rhinolophus species, including 2 species from GenBank. The length of the CR ranged from 1335 to 1514 bp, and the base composition was very similar among species. The CR of horseshoe bats, like that of other mammals, could be subdivided into a central conserved domain (CD) and two flanking variable domains, extended termination associated sequences (ETAS), and conserved sequence blocks (CSB). Besides the common conserved blocks (ETAS1, ETAS2, F-B boxes, CSB1, CSB2 and CSB3) found in 3 domains, an ETAS2-like and a CSB1-like element were also detected in the ETAS and CSB domains, respectively, in all individuals. Notwithstanding a short tandem repeat (11 or 13 bp) between CSB1 and CSB2 in all specimens, the base composition, copy number and arrays are all variable. A long tandem repeat (79 bp) was only identified in the ETAS domain in one individual of R. pusillus. Phylogenetic reconstructions based on the CR sequences indicated that the molecular phylogenetic relationships among some Rhinolophus species were inconsistent with the results of phenetic analyses, but similar to phylogenetic constructions using cytochrome b. An unidentified species R. sp and 3 species from the philippinensis-group that were clearly morphologically different comprised a monophyletic group, which could have resulted from morphological independent evolution.
 
Article
We studied the diet, activity budget, vertical ranging, and postural behaviour in relation to weather of the three-toed sloth (Bradypus variegatus flaccidus) in disturbed montane forest remnants (1150 m asl) in northern Venezuela. Sloths spent most (72.9%) of their time resting and had a nearly exclusive (99.4%) leaf diet. While resting they assumed a sitting - not hanging - posture mostly (90.2% of observations). Species of three families, Clethraceae, Cecropiaceae, and Clusiaceae accounted for 77% of feeding records. Young leaves (67.2%) accounted for most of the leaf diet. Activity and posture were dependent on weather conditions. Sloths fed more often during mid-day hours and tended to rest more at dawn and dusk. In northern Venezuela sloths tended to use more frequently the upper strata of the canopy, while in warmer lowland sites they use intermediate levels more often. They adopted postures that maximized exposure of ventral surfaces to incident solar radiation when sunny, but minimized their surface area by huddling when cloudy, foggy or rainy. We propose that sunning behaviour of sloths may speed up their fermentation rate, and ultimately, might have been an important selective factor in the evolution of derived upside-down posture of sloths.
 
Article
The black mongoose (Galerella nigrata) occurs in northern Namibia, where it occupies habitats dominated by large boulders (petrophily). Because of its restricted distribution, virtually nothing has been documented about its natural history. To fill this data gap, six males were radio-tracked in the foothills of the Erongo Mountains, Namibia in 2003. Although largely solitary, some home ranges overlapped nearly 100%. Males sometimes formed hunting diads similar to other congeners. The animals were diurnal and denned alone, using multiple sites haphazardly from night to night. The diet included many petrophilic vertebrates. The taxonomic status of the black mongoose is controversial; in addition to morphological evidence that it is a full species, it appears to be a habitat specialist compared with other forms of Galerella in southern African.ZusammenfassungVerhaltensökologie der Schwarzmanguste (Galerella nigrata) in NamibiaDie Schwarzmanguste (Galerella nigrata) kommt im nördlichen Namibia vor. Ihr Lebensraum zeichnet sich durch große Felsbrocken aus. Aufgrund ihres beschränkten Verbreitungsgebietes und ihrer Vorliebe für Felsen, wurde praktisch fast nichts über ihre Biologie dokumentiert. Um diese Datenlücke zu füllen, wurden 2003 sechs Männchen in den Ausläufern des Erongo-Gebirges in Namibia besendert. Obwohl sie nahezu solitär leben, überlappten ihre Streifgebiete fast 100%. Zur Jagd formierten sich die Männchen, ähnlich wie andere Angehörige dieser Gattung, manchmal in Zweier- oder Dreiergruppen. Die Tiere waren tagaktiv und zogen sich allein in Höhlen zurück, die sie willkürlich von Nacht zu Nacht wählten. Die Nahrung umfasste viele petrophile Wirbeltiere. Die taxonomische Stellung der Schwarzmanguste ist kontrovers, aber ergänzend zu ihrer morphologischen Erscheinung als eigene Art, scheint sie im Vergleich zu anderen Galerella-Formen des südlichen Afrika auf einen bestimmten Lebensraum spezialisiert zu sein.
 
Article
SummaryFor the first time the cartilaginous nasal skeleton of the rostrum of adult soricids has been reconstructed on the basis of histological serial sections. The length of the cartilaginous nasal skeleton of Neomys fodiens is 8.4 mm, i.e. about 35% of the total head length, while that of Sorex araneus is 4 mm, i.e., about 20% of the head length. However, both specimens were preserved in different functional states: The nasal skeleton of the Neomys-specimen is extended, whereas that of the Sorex-specimen is retracted by about 25% of its maximum length of 5.4 mm which would represent about 27% of the total head length. In both taxa, the caudalmost part of the rostral cartilage is subdivided into three elements, which can telescope into one another. Consequently, the proximal portion of the nasal septum, which forms a central axis with a rounded cross-section, is more or less straight in the Neomys-specimen, whereas in the Sorex-specimen the posterior elements are pushed into one another and the proximal portion of the nasal septum is bent in a S-like shape. The cartilaginous rostral skeleton can be retracted by a strong facial muscle, the newly defined M. retractor proboscidis, which originates on each side from the alveolar processes of the premaxillaries and inserts on the nasal roof cartilage. A number of additional structural details of the nasal skeleton are described and interpreted functionally, but an evaluation of their phylogenetic-systematic significance is postponed until additional soricid taxa have been studied.
 
Article
Southern Mali mainly belongs to the Sudanian savanna bioclimatic zone, but forest patches showing botanical affinities with Guinean humid forest remain as gallery forests or ravine forests. To characterize the rodent diversity of this area and check for the presence of some species of Guinean affinities in this group, rodent assemblages were sampled in four regions of southern Mali, using trapping and observational data in forest and surrounding habitats. Twenty-four species were recorded, comprising a representative sample of the expected overall diversity in this group according to rarefaction curves. Praomys rostratus was the dominant species in the most humid, closed lowland forest. Praomys daltoni was also present in this habitat type, being all the more abundant as habitat degradation was apparent. It became the dominant species in ravine forest on rocky substrate where P. rostratus was completely absent. In Sudanian savanna habitats and in herbaceous and cultivated areas, Mastomys erythroleucus dominated a diverse rodent community. A few species were found that testified for Guinean affinities of the most humid forest patches, especially in the extreme southeast of the country (region of Sikasso). Rodent assemblages of the Bafing and Mts Mandingues areas, in the western part of the study area, showed the highest similarity, in relation with environmental characteristics of this region representing an extension of the Fouta Djallon plateau in Guinea. The results obtained highlight the high biodiversity value of this forest-savanna mosaic, and provide new arguments in favour of the preservation of West African forest patches and their surrounding habitats.
 
Top-cited authors
Marco Apollonio
  • University of Sassari - Italy
Danilo Russo
  • University of Naples Federico II
Fabio Bontadina
  • Swild - Urban Ecology & Wildlife Research
Frank Zachos
  • Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria
Daniel Hegglin
  • Swild - Urban Ecology & Wildlife Research