Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Biodiversity in a changing world: Small mammal communities in a mixed-use landscape of the Western Ghats, India (#665)

Ansil B R 1 , Vivek Ramachandran 1 , Uma Ramakrishnan 1
  1. Ecology and Evolution Group, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Globally, landscapes are changing with human-induced fragmentation. The Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot in Southern India has the highest human population density in the world. Landscapes here include a mix of human-modified (tea, human settlements and abandoned plantations) and natural (rainforest and grassland) fragments. We investigated the impacts of land-use and habitat on small mammal communities in Kadumane, central Western Ghats, India. Eight species of rodents and two insectivores were represented by 268 captures of 183 individuals with a total trapping effort of 6,920 trap-nights (capture rate 3.78 %) over two seasons. Out of the 10 species captured, three were endemic to the Western Ghats. Small mammals showed distinct distribution patterns across the habitat types. Community structure, species richness, relative abundance and biomass varied across habitats, with each type having a different dominant species. Mus booduga, which was the most abundant species, comprising 45.90%, followed by Mus musculus (26.23%) and Rattus satarae (18.58%). The abandoned plantation supported the highest richness and biomass of small mammals, followed by forest fragments and grasslands. The grasslands were affected by seasonal fires and witnessed significant fluctuations of species abundance and hosted a unique species assemblage. Modified landscapes such as active plantations as well as built-up areas had a preponderance of commensals. Our study attempts to make predictions about biodiversity transitions in secondary and mixed-use landscapes, habitats that dominate the tropics globally.