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Spatio-temporal variation in small mammal species richness, relative abundance and body mass reveal changes in a coastal wetland ecosystem in Ghana

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Coastal wetlands in Ghana are under severe threat of anthropogenic drivers of habitat degradation and climate change, thereby increasing the need for assessment and monitoring to inform targeted and effective conservation of these ecosystems. Here, we assess small mammal species richness, relative abundance and body mass in three habitats at the Muni-Pomadze Ramsar site of Ghana, and compare these to baseline data gathered in 1997 to evaluate changes in the wetland ecosystem. Small mammals were live-trapped using Sherman collapsible and pitfall traps. We recorded 84 individuals of 10 species in 1485 trap-nights, whereas the baseline study recorded 45 individuals of seven species in 986 trap-nights. The overall trap-success was therefore greater in the present study (5.66 %) than the baseline study (4.56 %). The species richness increased from one to four in the forest, and from zero to eight in the thicket, but decreased from six to four in the grassland. The total number of individuals increased in all habitats, with the dominant species in the grassland shifting from Lemniscomys striatus to Mastomys erythroleucus. Three species, Malacomys edwardsi, Grammomys poensis and Praomys tullbergi are the first records for the Muni-Pomadze Ramsar site. Generally, the average body mass of individual species in the grassland was lower in the present study. The considerable changes in small mammal community structure suggest changes in the wetland ecosystem. The conservation implications of our findings are discussed.

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This study was undertaken under the building capacity to meet the climate change challenge (B4C), Ghana project funded by the Open Society Foundations. Idea Wild provided equipment support for small mammal trapping. We thank Daniel Acquah-Lamptey for assisting with the data analysis, and the two anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Benjamin Y. Ofori.

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Ofori, B.Y., Attuquayefio, D.K., Owusu, E.H. et al. Spatio-temporal variation in small mammal species richness, relative abundance and body mass reveal changes in a coastal wetland ecosystem in Ghana. Environ Monit Assess 188, 330 (2016).

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