Comparative ecology of two elephant-shrew species in a Kenyan coastal forest



The Four-toed Elephant-Shrew Petrodromus tetradactylus is one of the most widely distributed elephant-shrew species, ranging from Kenya to South Africa, while the Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew Rhynchocyon chrysopygus has a limited distribution, being found only on the north Kenya coast. This paper compares the behaviour and ecology of the two species in Arabukc-Sokoke Forest, Kenya. Compared with Four-toed Elephant-Shrews, Golden-rumped Elephant-Shrews have larger home ranges and maintain lower densities, as predicted from their greater body size. Both species prefer areas with dense vegetation cover, avoiding open areas, but the Four-toed ElephantShrew shows a greater preference for dense thicket areas. Territory size was inversely correlated with dry-season spider abundance in Golden-rumped Elephant-Shrews, and with dry-season ant abundance in Four-toed Elephant-Shrews. Differences in activity patterns, as well as body size, may contribute to niche separation between the two species. Both species appear to be monogamous, with males and females defending overlapping territories. Male Golden-rumped Elephant-Shrews range over slightly larger areas than females, and are more likely to trespass into neighbouring territories. The less specific habitat requirements of Four-toed Elephant-Shrews and their higher densities are probably the two most important factors resulting in their wide distributional range.