Ecological Research

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1081–1088 | Cite as

Resource characteristics and foraging adaptations in the silvery mole-rat (Heliophobius argenteocinereus), a solitary Afrotropical bathyergid

Original Article

Abstract

The African mole rats (Bathyergidae) is a rodent family unique for subterranean life and diverse social systems. Solitary species are thought to be confined to areas with abundant, evenly distributed food resources and easily workable soils, which favors early natal dispersal and independent reproduction. However, there is a paucity of empirical data confirming this assumption. We examined ecological conditions of a typical natural habitat of the solitary silvery mole-rat (Heliophobius argenteocinereus), which is the Miombo woodland, and we identified behavioral and other adaptations which potentially improve its foraging success. We also tested food selectivity of captive mole-rats. In the Miombo, mole-rat food resources were clumped, but relatively ample. This, along with a predictable and relatively short period of year with dry and difficult-to-work soil, creates relatively moderate ecological conditions. Analysis of food stores showed that food storing alone probably does not secure enough food to overcome the advanced dry season in this species. In light of this, several other adaptations, such as food generalism and area-restricted search can assist silvery mole-rats retaining positive energy balance during these times. Food-preference tests showed that silvery mole-rats prefer tubers with high sugar content, followed by those with high water content.

Keywords

Food selection Food storing Foraging adaptation Bathyergidae Subterranean rodent 

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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Šklíba
    • 1
  • Radim Šumbera
    • 1
  • Miloš Vitámvás
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic

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