Original Research

Biotic and abiotic correlates of small mammal community structure in the Groendal Wilderness Area, Eastern Cape, South Africa

L.M. Els, G.I.H. Kerley
Koedoe | Vol 39, No 2 | a299 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v39i2.299 | © 1996 L.M. Els, G.I.H. Kerley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 August 1996 | Published: 07 August 1996

About the author(s)

L.M. Els, Eastern Cape Nature Conservation, South Africa
G.I.H. Kerley, University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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Abstract

We investigated the relations between environmental features (biotic and abiotic) and small mammal communities in the Groendal Wilderness Area, South Africa. Habitat architecture (expressed as both horizontal and vertical foliage density) and total plant canopy cover (especially shrub canopy cover) are the most important correlates of small mammal community structure at this site. The mechanisms for these relationships are complex, probably involving physiological, social and anti-predator effects as well as reflecting nutritional resources. Furthermore, man and fire influence small mammal community structure. These effects are as a result of altered plant community composition and structure by plantation and pasture establishment and burning. In order to maintain a diversity of small mammal communities, management should ensure a mosaic of diverse vegetation communities.

Keywords

rodents, shrews, community structure, fire, management.

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