The ecology of Hypogeomys antimena, an endemic Madagascan rodent



The subfamily Nesomyinae comprises 11 species of rodents endemic to the island of Madagascar. They show considerable ecological and anatomical diversity but little is known of their biology and they have not been studied to any extent in the wild. We present here the results of a nine-week field study of Hypogeomys antimena, the largest of the Nesomyinae, found only in a restricted area of dry deciduous forest in western Madagascar. Radiotracking data gave a mean home range estimate of 3.5+0.71 ha for 10 animals (five males, five females). Individuals from the same burrow had highly overlapping ranges but ranges of animals from neighbouring burrows showed minimal overlap. We suggest that H. antimena lives in social units, probably consisting of a pair plus their offspring, which occupy exclusive territories. A mark/recapture study gave a minimum population estimate of 48 animals/km2 in the study site. The conservation of the species is discussed with reference to its limited distribution and current habitat degradation in the area.