Ecological variables governing habitat suitability and the distribution of the endangered Juliana’s golden mole
Juliana’s golden mole (Neamblysomus julianae) occurs in three isolated populations in the northeastern parts of South Africa. This cryptic species is not evenly distributed throughout its restricted range and appears to have very specific habitat requirements. Its endangered status reflects the necessity for a conservation management programme, which to date has not been comprehensive. A primary hindrance to such initiatives has been the lack of information pertaining to its habitat requirements.We assessed various soil and vegetation parameters, at each population site, in areas where the animals were found to be present or absent. A multiple logistic regression model highlighted the importance of soil hardness (governed by soil particle size distribution), in combination with the cover provided by trees, as the two ecological factors that best explained habitat suitability for Juliana’s golden mole at the three localities. An IndVal analysis failed to identify any plant species that could reliably act as an indicator of habitat suitability for this fossorial mammal. These results have important implications for the conservation of the species.
Key words: Neamblysomus julianae, golden moles, small mammals, habitat suitability, habitat requirements, distribution.