Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Mind the gaps: Assessing continent-wide knowledge of small African carnivores (#287)

Emmanuel Do Linh San 1 , Paula A. White 2 , Adam W. Ferguson 3
  1. Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Fort Hare, Alice, Eastern Cape, South Africa
  2. Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. Deparment of Forestry and Wildlife Management, Maasai Mara University, Narok, Kenya

Small African carnivores – here defined as African carnivorans with an adult body mass < 15 kg – represent about 35% of extant small carnivores worldwide. Eight of the world’s 13 terrestrial carnivore families have representative species meeting this criteria in Africa (Canidae: 14% of small African carnivores; Eupleridae: 8%; Felidae: 9%; Herpestidae: 32%; Hyaenidae: 1%; Mustelidae: 12%; Nandiniidae: 1%; and Viverridae: 21%). In spite of this diversity, studies on larger species seem to dominate African carnivore research. To both quantify research bias and highlight knowledge gaps for small carnivores in Africa, we undertook a thorough literature review of all published works until April 2014 on African carnivores, both large and small. We identified 6,270 published records for all carnivore species. Sixty-three percent of all papers focused on at least one of the 10 large African carnivore species, while only 37% were focused on the remaining 81 small species. Utilising titles and abstracts we scored papers across 21 categories to identify particular areas of research lacking for individual species. For small African carnivores, a majority of research to date has focused on peripheral inclusion of species in broader studies (e.g. carnivoran phylogenies, morphological evolution), evolution of sociality in mongooses, and distributional records/observations. Little to no research exists on the fundamental ecology or conservation status of most small African carnivores. We therefore strongly encourage more research to increase our understanding of the ecological roles and, when relevant, better devise protection measures for this diverse and understudied group of small carnivores.