Home ranges, sex ratio and recruitment of the multimammate rat (Mastomys natalensis) in semi-arid areas in Tanzania

Emmanuel C.M. Mlyashimbi 1 , 2 , Joachim Mariën 3 , Didas N. Kimaro 4 , Akwilin J.P. Tarimo 1 , Robert S. Machang’u 2 , Rhodes H. Makundi 2 , Moses Isabirye 5 , Apia W. Massawe 2 , Herwig Leirs 3 , Mashaka E. Mdangi 6 , Steven R. Belmain 7  and Loth S. Mulungu 2
  • 1 Department of Crop Science and Horticulture, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3005, Morogoro, Tanzania
  • 2 Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3110, Morogoro, Tanzania
  • 3 Evolutionary Ecology Group, Universiteit Antwerpen, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium
  • 4 Department of Engineering Sciences and Technology, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3003, Morogoro, Tanzania
  • 5 Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Busitema University, P.O. Box 236, Tororo, Uganda
  • 6 Training, Extension Services and Research, Ministry of Agriculture, P.O. Box 2182, Dodoma, Tanzania
  • 7 Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Chatham Maritime, Kent, UK
Emmanuel C.M. Mlyashimbi
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Crop Science and Horticulture, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3005, Morogoro, Tanzania
  • Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3110, Morogoro, Tanzania
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, Joachim Mariën
  • Evolutionary Ecology Group, Universiteit Antwerpen, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium
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, Didas N. Kimaro
  • Department of Engineering Sciences and Technology, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3003, Morogoro, Tanzania
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, Akwilin J.P. Tarimo
  • Department of Crop Science and Horticulture, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3005, Morogoro, Tanzania
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, Robert S. Machang’u
  • Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3110, Morogoro, Tanzania
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, Rhodes H. Makundi
  • Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3110, Morogoro, Tanzania
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, Moses Isabirye
  • Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Busitema University, P.O. Box 236, Tororo, Uganda
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, Apia W. Massawe
  • Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3110, Morogoro, Tanzania
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, Herwig Leirs
  • Evolutionary Ecology Group, Universiteit Antwerpen, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium
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, Mashaka E. Mdangi
  • Training, Extension Services and Research, Ministry of Agriculture, P.O. Box 2182, Dodoma, Tanzania
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, Steven R. Belmain and Loth S. Mulungu
  • Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3110, Morogoro, Tanzania
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Abstract

Investigation of home ranges, sex ratio and recruitment of the multimammate rat (Mastomys natalensis) in semi-arid areas of Tanzania was conducted in maize and fallow fields using the capture-mark-release (CMR) technique. The aim of this study was to generate useful data for the management of M. natalensis. The relative home range size of M. natalensis was significantly higher during the wet [544 m2 ± 25 standard error (SE)] than during the dry (447 m2 ± 18 SE) season, in males (521 m2 ± 23 SE) than in females (450 m2 ± 17 SE) and in adults (576 m2 ± 34 SE) than in juveniles (459 m2 ± 16 SE). However, there were no significant differences between habitats. Sex ratio was not significantly different (p = 0.44) between habitats. Recruitment was significantly higher (p = 0.000) in maize fields (mean = 0.43) than in fallow land (mean = 0.32) and differed significantly over time (p < 0.0001) with the highest recruitment recorded from April to July and the lowest from October to December. Management strategies should focus on managing rodents inhabiting maize fields using methods that affect their recruitment in order to reduce the population increase of M. natalensis.

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Mammalia is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the inventory, analysis and interpretation of Mammalian diversity. It publishes original results on all aspects of systematics (comparative, functional and evolutionary morphology; morphometrics; phylogeny; biogeography; taxonomy and nomenclature), biology, ecology and conservation of mammals.

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