SPECIES COMPOSITION, HABITAT ASSOCIATION AND RELATIVE ABUNDANCE OF SMALL MAMMALS IN BORENA SAYINT NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH WOLLO, ETHIOPIA
Small mammals are ecological regulators in natural habitats. During the present investigation, species composition, distribution and relative abundance of small mammals were studied in Denkoro Forest, South Wollo, and Ethiopia from 2011 to 2012. In this investigation, Capture-Mark-Recapture (CMR) method was used. Data were collected during the wet and dry seasons by using Sherman live-traps (7.6× 8.9 × 22.9 cm. size) and snap-traps, and the traps were randomly laid at different trap sites of the habitats. The area of each live-trap grid was 70 ×70 m. Each of the grids consisted of seven lines, 10 m apart, with a trap station at every 10 m. A total of 49 Sherman traps was set in each grid, for 3 consecutive days. Ten species of small mammals belonging to rodents and insectivores were recorded from the study area. Additional two rodent species (Hystrix cristata and Trachyoryctes splendens)were sighted, but not captured. The small mammals trapped were Lophuromys flavopunctatus (35.7%), Otomys typus (28.5%), Stenocephalemys griseicauda (14.6%), Arvicanthis dembeensis (9.1%), Crocidura flavescens (5.9%), Stenocephalemys albipes (1.9%), Crocidura fumosa (1.4%), Desmomys harringtoni (0.8%), Mus Mahomet (0.6%) and Dendromus lovati (0.3%). Population abundance and species composition of small mammals varied from habitat to habitat and from season to season. Lophuromys flavopunctatus and O. typus were the most widely distributed and abundant species, whereas S. albipes, C. fumosa (in the forest), D. harringtoni, D. lovati and M. mahomet (in the farmland) were restricted species. Seasonal variation and availability of food resulted in variation in abundance and distribution of small mammals from habitat to habitat. Disturbance of small mammals by plant trampling and cutting should be stopped since small mammals are a source of diet to the endemic Ethiopia wolf and other carnivores.