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Diversity and dynamics in a community of small mammals in coastal Guinea, West Africa

As part of a large survey on reservoirs of Lassa fever in Guinea, three villages were investigated in high endemic zone, close to Sierra Leone border. Biodiversity of the small mammal community is presented in this study through a standardized trapping in houses, cultivations and forest. Identification of the small mammals was based on morphology and by molecular technique for sibling species. Of the 1123 specimens collected in 2003–2005, we identified seventeen species (thirteen Muridae, four Soricidae), leading to high diversity (Shannon index = 1.6–1.8) and high equitability (evenness index = 0.7–0.8) in cultivations and forest. In houses conversely, the rodent community was dominated by Mastomys natalensis (95–98%), leading to low diversity and equitability. Dynamics and reproduction were investigated in two species of pygmy mice, Mus mattheyi and Mus minutoides, two species of PraomysP. daltoni and P. rostratus, and in Mastomys erythroleucus. The pygmy mice were abundant in cultivations in early rainy season, and reproduced from rainy to dry season. Praomys daltoni was also found more abundant in cultivations and seemed to reproduce between rainy and dry season, whereas P. rostratus preferred forest and cultivations in late rainy season, and reproduced throughout the year. Finally, M. erythroleucus was more abundant in forest in dry season, and seemed to reproduce from late rainy to dry season. This species had a low occurrence (6.5%) in the Faranah’s zone, and probably lived at its southern limit in Guinea. The presence of other Murinae, such as M. natalensisPraomys spp as possible competitors in the same habitats, is discussed. For the first time, this study relates population biology of pygmy mice with molecular identification.

Geography: West Africa Guinea
Reference: Fichet-Calvet, E., Lecompte, E., Veyrunes, F., Barriere, P., Nicolas, V. & Koulemou, K. 2009. Diversity and dynamics in a community of small mammals in coastal Guinea, West Africa. Belgian Journal of Zoology. 139: 93-102.