Rodents have lowest diversity in primary forests in the Congo

Jeremy Hance
September 17, 2012

For many animal families, diversity and abundance rises as one moves away from human-impacted landscapes, like agricultural areas, into untouched places, such as primary rainforests. However, a new study in mongabay.com's open access journal Tropical Conservation Science, shows that the inverse can also be true. In this case, scientists working in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) Masako Forest found that both rodent diversity and abundance was lowest in primary forest.

Capturing over 1,200 rodents across 24 species, scientists found that abundance and diversity were highest in transition areas between secondary forest and fallow cropland and lowest in primary forests. This is not entirely surprising as past studies have found similar results. Many rodents species thrive in human-impacted landscapes.

The scientists also found that rodent abundance changed significantly during seasons in secondary forest and fallow cropland. However, in primary forests, seasonality made little difference.

Other research has shown that sometimes bird diversity is actually higher in a landscape of forest patches and cropland than in primary rainforests. Still, primary forests often contains specialist species found no-where else.

CITATION: Iyongo Waya Mongo, L., Visser, M., De Cannière, C., Verheyen, E., Dudu Akaibe, B., Ulyel Ali-Patho, J., and Bogaert, J. 2012. Anthropisation et effets de lisière : impacts sur la diversité des rongeurs dans la Réserve Forestière de Masako (Kisangani, R.D. Congo). Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 5(3):270-283.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (September 17, 2012).

Rodents have lowest diversity in primary forests in the Congo.