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This study compares the results of three studies and assesses the effects of seasonal changes in the environment on populations of small mammals at three altitudes in Malawi (Zomba Plateau [1900 m], Liwonde National Park [550 m] and Lengwe National Park [100 m]). Zomba Plateau had a higher annual rainfall (mean 2244 mm), longer wet season, shorter dry season, cooler temperatures and smaller water deficit than either Liwonde NP or Lengwe NP (which had similar climates). Maximum grass biomass (and fluctuation index) was 814 g/m2 (1.7) on Zomba Plateau, 1066 g/m2 (2.7) at Liwonde, and 854 g/m2 (30.5) at Lengwe. Sixteen species of rodents were recorded, 7–9 at each study area; the species on Zomba Plateau did not occur at the lower altitudes, and the lower altitude species did not occur on Zomba Plateau. Percentage Similarity and Coefficients of Community showed that there was considerable similarity between Liwonde and Lengwe, but no similarity between either of them and Zomba Plateau. Mean population densities of small rodents (range, fluctuation index) were 23/ha (15–35, 2.3) on Zomba Plateau, 12.6 (2.7–19.1, 7.1) at Liwonde, and 14.5 (0.9–30.9, 33.9) at Lengwe. Stability of the environment tends to confer stability in demographic characteristics. Reproduction was mainly confined to the wet season (December to April) at all altitudes. Comparison of the proportion of new individuals each month, and the duration of residence by individuals, suggests that turnover of the population was slowest on Zomba Plateau and fastest at Lengwe. There was no evidence for reduced litter size, reduced opportunity for reproduction, or increased age to maturity at the highest altitude compared with the lower altitudes as has been recorded in temperate environments.