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Differences in diet between two rodent species of Mastomys natalensis and Gerbilliscus vicinus in fallowland habitat of central Tanzania

Keywords: diet , fallow land , Gerbilliscus vicinus , M. natalensis , niche , resources

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Abstract:

Differences in the ecological niches requirements among rodent species competing in the same habitat may result from differences in the use of one to three resources: space, time and food or some combination of these. Alternatively, differences in resource use utilization among animal species may simply reflect availability of food, and when food is limited, different animal species compete. In this study, the diet of two rodent pest species Mastomys natalensis and Gerbilliscus vicinus coexisting in fallow lands in central Tanzania were studied to assess the degree of diet differentiation among them. Dietary niche breadth of G. vicinus was greater than that of M. natalensis in all stages of the maize cropping seasons. The rodent species studied overlapped considerably in the food items consumed ranging from niche overlap (Ojk) of 0.77 - 0.89. Grains/seeds featured high in the diet of M. natalensis while plant materials occurrence was high in G. vicinus. These two food categories may have contributed to differences in diet partitioning, which may, in turn, facilitate their coexistence in fallowland.

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