The influence of agricultural activities on the diversity of rodents in Kindoroko forest reserve and surrounding areas, North Pare Mountains, Tanzania
The patterns of richness, diversity and similarity in rodent communities in agricultural areas and in adjacent Kindoroko Forest Reserve in the North Pare Mountains, Tanzania were assessed. By using a capture-mark-recapture method, 289 individuals of nine rodent species in March and May 2011 were captured. Seven species were recorded in agricultural area and 5 species in the Forest Reserve. Multimammate Rat (Mastomys natalensis) was abundant in agricultural area while soft-furred mouse (Praomys delectorum) was dominant in the Forest Reserve. Species diversity was greater outside than inside the forest, supporting results of earlier studies. Species similarity between the two habitats was high indicating that the species were generally evenly distributed across the landscape. The results showed the importance of agricultural land to the rodent community. Differences in rodent diversity between the two areas could be attributed to the availability of food and the heterogeneous environment in agricultural areas. While the factors causing lower diversity in the Forest Reserve are not yet understood, reduced food availability and competition with herbivores could be a contributing factor. Further work to understand the factors determining habitat preferences of species for conservation and ecosystem function is recommended.
Keywords: Diversity, Kindoroko, North Pare Mountains, Rodents, Tanzania