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Burrow architecture, family composition and habitat characteristics of the largest social African mole-rat
Radim Šumbera, Vladimír Mazoch, Hana Patzenhauerová, Matěj Lövy, Jan Šklíba, Josef Bryja, Hynek Burda, 2012, original scientific article

Abstract: African mole-rats, the giant mole-rat Fukomys mechowii is the largest social species. Despite several attempts to study a free-living population, information on its biology from natural habitats is very scarce. We mapped two neighbouring burrow systems of the giant mole-rat in a miombo woodland in Zambia. We provide information on the size and kin structure of the respective mole-rat families, architecture of their burrow systems, and characteristics of the food supply and soil around the two mapped and additional ten burrow systems. Both uncovered burrow systems were very large (total lengths, 2,245 and 743 m), making them the largest burrow systems ever mapped. Food resources around the additional ten burrow systems had a clumped distribution (standardized Morisita index of dispersion=0.526), but a relatively high biomass (298+-455 gm-2). This, together with favourable soil conditions even in the advanced dry season (cone resistance, 328+-50 Nm-2; soil density, 1.36+-0.06 gcm-3) indicates relatively hospitable ecological conditions. Both food supply and soil conditions were comparable with the conditions found in a miombo habitat of the solitary silvery mole-rat in Malawi. This suggests that there are no ecological constraints which would preclude the solitary life of a subterranean herbivore from the examined habitat. Microsatellite analysis supported the assumption that giant mole-rats live in monogamous multigenerational families with only one breeding pair of non-related animals and their offspring. The mean family size is consistent with previous findings on this species and comparable to that found in other Fukomys species studied thus far
Found in: osebi
Keywords: Fukomys mechowii, giant mole-rat, subterranean rodent, burrow system, kin structure, Bathyergidae
Published: 15.10.2013; Views: 1153; Downloads: 14
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