Reproduction and survival of rodents in crop fields: the effects of rainfall, crop stage and stone-bund density
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Wildlife research. - Melbourne
, p. 158-164
University of Antwerp
Context. Reproduction and survival are two of the most important demographic factors that play a major role in changing population abundances of pest species over time and space, solid understanding of which is a useful input to forecast future population changes for proactive management. Aims. We investigated the effects of rainfall, crop-development stage and density of stone bunds on reproductive patterns, and the effects of stone-bund density and sex on survival probabilities of two widespread rodent species (Mastomys awashensis and Arvicanthis dembeensis) in Ethiopian highlands. Methods. Rodent population dynamics were monitored from April 2007 to February 2011, using capture-mark-recapture (CMR) technique in four 60 x 60 m permanent square grids for four consecutive cropping seasons. Two of the grids represented fields with low stone-bund density (LSBD, similar to 15m apart) and the other two represented fields with high stone-bund density (HSBD, similar to 10m apart). Key results. Reproduction was seasonal, commencing during the wet season following the rain and continuing through the early dry season. We found an increase in the abundance of reproductively active female individuals of both species towards the milky and fruiting crop stages and around harvest period. We found no strong difference in survival probability between the two rodent species with variation in stone-bund density and sex. Conclusion. Stone bunds play a minor role in the reproduction and survival of the rodent species at the observed abundances. Implications. In terms of pest management, the high local survival rates estimated for both rodent species matter more than survival differences owing to variations in stone-bund density and sex.