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Keywords:

  • community structure;
  • forest degradation;
  • small mammal stratification;
  • vertical habitat segregation

Summary

  • 1
    Non-volant animals in tropical rain forests differ in their ability to exploit the habitat above the forest floor and also in their response to habitat variability. It is predicted that specific movement trajectories are determined both by intrinsic factors such as ecological specialization, morphology and body size and by structural features of the surrounding habitat such as undergrowth and availability of supportive structures.
  • 2
    We applied spool-and-line tracking in order to describe movement trajectories and habitat segregation of eight species of small mammals from an assemblage of Muridae, Tupaiidae and Sciuridae in the rain forest of Borneo where we followed a total of 13 525 m path. We also analysed specific changes in the movement patterns of the small mammals in relation to habitat stratification between logged and unlogged forests. Variables related to climbing activity of the tracked species as well as the supportive structures of the vegetation and undergrowth density were measured along their tracks.
  • 3
    Movement patterns of the small mammals differed significantly between species. Most similarities were found in congeneric species that converged strongly in body size and morphology. All species were affected in their movement patterns by the altered forest structure in logged forests with most differences found in Leopoldamys sabanus. However, the large proportions of short step lengths found in all species for both forest types and similar path tortuosity suggest that the main movement strategies of the small mammals were not influenced by logging but comprised generally a response to the heterogeneous habitat as opposed to random movement strategies predicted for homogeneous environments.
  • 4
    Overall shifts in microhabitat use showed no coherent trend among species. Multivariate (principal component) analysis revealed contrasting trends for convergent species, in particular for Maxomys rajah and M. surifer as well as for Tupaia longipes and T. tana, suggesting that each species was uniquely affected in its movement trajectories by a multiple set of environmental and intrinsic features.