Diet Composition and Niche Overlap of Four Sympatric Rodent Species Inhabiting Mount Rungwe Forest Nature Reserve, Tanzania
Understanding animal feeding behaviour is key in determining coexistence mechanisms which are vital for conservation and management. The coexistence mechanisms of sympatric species in mount Rungwe are unknown. From 2020 to 2021 a study on the dietary contribution, overlap and niche breadth of four rodents in Mount Rungwe Forest Nature Reserve was conducted. Random sampling was employed with the removal method, whereby captured rodents’ stomachs were removed and their contents analyzed. Dietary contribution, overlap and niche breadth were calculated. All species consume diverse food resources and categories where Beamys hindei had a significantly high number of seeds/grains while Grammomys dolichurus and Lophuromys machangui contained a significantly higher number of invertebrates. Narrow niche breadth was observed for G. dolichurus while Praomys delectorum, L. machangui, and B. hindei had a moderate niche breadth but the dietary overlap was high in all four species. Our results conclude that L. machangui, P. delectorum, and B. hindei can coexist without competition as they have >0.5 niche breadth and high overlap, while G. dolichurus might experience competition because of low niche breadth and food diversity. Further investigation regarding seasonal diet partitioning and micro identification of food items is recommended
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