address for correspondence: Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria. Pretoria 0002, South Africa.
The social structure and dominance hierarchy of the Mashona mole-rat, Cryptomys darlingi (Rodentia: Bathyergidae) from Zimbabwe
Article first published online: 16 MAY 2009
1996 The Zoological Society of London
Journal of Zoology
Volume 240, Issue 2, pages 221–231, October 1996
How to Cite
Gabathuler, U., Bennett, N. C. and Jarvis, J. U. M. (1996), The social structure and dominance hierarchy of the Mashona mole-rat, Cryptomys darlingi (Rodentia: Bathyergidae) from Zimbabwe. Journal of Zoology, 240: 221–231. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1996.tb05281.x
- Issue published online: 16 MAY 2009
- Article first published online: 16 MAY 2009
- Accepted 6 July 1995
Cryptomys darlingi is a social subterranean rodent mole which inhabits the mesic regions of south-eastern and central Africa. Mashona mole-rats live in small colonies (5-9 animals) in which reproduction is normally restricted to the largest male and female in the colony. The non-reproductive members in a mature colony cannot be placed into clearly defined work-related groups based on body mass.
The dominance hierarchy of a young colony was found to be linear, with a value of 1.00 calculated from Landau's linearity index, while that of a mature colony of nine mole-rats was almost linear (0.77). Dominance was found to be related to gender in the mature colony, with males more dominant than females, and to age in the young colony. The reproductive mole-rats are the dominant animals within their respective genders. Dominance appears to correlate positively with body mass (rs = 0.77 in the mature colony and rs = 0.93 in the young colony).
Popularity studies show that smaller animals and females tend to be more popular than the larger massed individuals or males. In the mature colony which contained predominantly adult animals, the reproductive pair was among the least popular. While in the young colony, composed predominantly of sub-adult and juvenile animals, the reproductive pair was the most popular.
Social organization within Mashona mole-rat colonies is compared with other southern African Cryptomys species.