Diverse habitats needed for survival of small mammals in Mexico

Jeremy Hance
March 29, 2010

A new study in Tropical Conservation Science shows that small tropical mammals in Mexico—bats and rodents—require a variety of habitats to thrive. Surveying mammal populations in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, researchers found that sites comprising the greatest habitat diversity carried also the greatest diversity of rodents. In turn bats lived in all variety of habitats and moved easily from one to another.

Capturing 1,133 individual animals, comprising 13 rodent species and 26 bat species in 2006, researchers surveyed a variety of habitats including farmlands, pasture, human settlements, and secondary habitat. The authors hypothesize that the diversity patterns observed in their survey was due to both habitat diversity and diverse food resources.

Capturing the painted spiny pocket mouse (Liomys pictus) in Mexico.
The authors recommend conservation efforts that emphasize protecting wildlife corridors to give shelter and food for the species, along with the ability to move from one ecosystem to another. Such corridors allow both generalist mammals and specialist mammals to thrive together. Threatened bat species would also improve with shrub and tree cover near bodies of water. The presence of human activity was not found to affect the diversity of these small mammals.

Small mammals, such as bats and rodents, play important roles in ecosystem and aid humans through seed dispersal and insect control.

Citation: Zeigler, S. L., Fagan, W. F., DeFries, R. and Raboy, B. E.. 2010. Identifying Important Forest Patches for the Long-term Persistence of the Endangered Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas). Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 3 (1):63-77.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (March 29, 2010).

Diverse habitats needed for survival of small mammals in Mexico.