Soil type limits population abundance of rodents in crop fields: case study of the multimammate rat Mastomys natalensis Smith, 1834 in Tanzania.

Integrative zoology

PubMedID: 21396048

Massawe AW, Rwamugira W, Leirs H, Makundi RH, Mulungu L, Ngowo V, Machang'u R. Soil type limits population abundance of rodents in crop fields: case study of the multimammate rat Mastomys natalensis Smith, 1834 in Tanzania. Integr Zool. 2008;3(1):27-30.
Studies of populations of the multimammate rat Mastomys natalensis in Morogoro, Tanzania, show that soil texture appears to influence the population abundance and distribution of these rats in agricultural fields. The lowest rodent population abundance was found on sandy clay soils (F((2, 5)) = 8.42; P= 0.025). The population abundances of M. natalensis on sandy clay loam and sandy loam soils did not differ significantly (P= 0.05), possibly because these soils have a very similar texture. The results of this study suggest that M. natalensis prefers loam-textured soils with a high percentage of sand, which are probably better than clay soils for burrowing and nesting, particularly in the rainy season. The lower preference for clay soils is probably related to the poor aeration in these soils and the waterlogging that occurs during the wet season.