*Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, P.I.C.L., Tangley Place, Worplesdon, Guildford, Surrey, England
The population dynamics of small rodents in a tropical African grassland
Article first published online: 20 AUG 2009
Journal of Zoology
Volume 188, Issue 4, pages 451–475, August 1979
How to Cite
Cheeseman, C. L. and Delany, M. J. (1979), The population dynamics of small rodents in a tropical African grassland. Journal of Zoology, 188: 451–475. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1979.tb03429.x
- Issue published online: 20 AUG 2009
- Article first published online: 20 AUG 2009
- Accepted 10 October 1978
Monthly estimates were obtained of the density of small rodents in tropical grassland in Rwenzori Park, Uganda between April 1972 and September 1973. Of the 12 species of rodents present, the most numerous were Lemniscomys striatus, Lophuromys sikapusi, Mus triton, Mylomys dybowskii and Praomys natalensis. In a live trapping grid estimates were obtained using direct enumeration, numbers caught, Hayne's Lincoln Index and Jolly's method. Monthly estimates ranged between 16·67 and 63·32 animals per hectare. Intensive removal trappings were also undertaken and these gave estimates of 6·45 to 27·24 per hectare. The inconsistency of the two estimates may be accounted for by small microhabitat and vegetational differences.
Breeding occurs in Lemniscomys and Praomys during the wet season whilen Lophuromys it is more extended but nevertheless seasonal. There is considerable evidence of rapid population turnover as the five species examined in detail had a mean duration of residence between two and three months. Few animals were resident for more than eight months.
The monthly standing crop biomass ranged from 672 to 2221 g/ha on the live trapping grid and from 348 to 1126 g/ha on the intensive removal grids. Estimates of net annual production on the live trapping grid rely on a number of assumptions but are nevertheless relatively high ranging from 5897 to 7072 g/ha.
Fires had a significant indirect effect on the composition of the fauna. Mus triton and Lemniscomys increased their numbers in the five months following the burn to levels not previously attained whereas Mylomys and Lophuromys were less frequent during this period. Several species of avian, reptilian and mammalian predators are recorded.