Short communications: Opportunistic breeding in the Cape spiny mouse (Acomys subspinosus)

  • P.A. Fleming
  • S.W. Nicolson
Keywords: animal–plant interaction, non–flying mammal pollination, Protea humiflora.


The relationship between Protea humiflora and its small mammal pollinators was  investigated at the fynbos/karoo ecotone in the Riviersonderend Mountains, South Africa. Acomys subspinosus occurred in low densities at Jonaskop, with around 3.9 ± 2.0 (mean ± 1 S.D.) individuals/ha (six months of trapping). Low repeat trapping may result from low survivorship or emigration from the area after flowering of P. humiflora. Mean mass of A. subspinosus was lower than published values due to a  high proportion of juveniles in the population, coinciding with P. humiflora flowering. Comparison with other published data suggests that A. subspinosus is an opportunistic breeder. This contrasts with its geographically nearest congener, A. spinosissimus, in which breeding is restricted to the summer months, but is similar to data for other Acomys species. Minimum home range areas (≈0.23 ha, minimum overnight distance 39 ± 6 m), were relatively high and may indicate a species surviving on thinly dispersed resources.

Key words: animal–plant interaction, non–flying mammal pollination, Protea humiflora.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-073X
print ISSN: 1562-7020