The impact of fire on habitat use by the short nosed sengi (elephantulus brachrthynchus) in Northwest Province, South Africa

Yarnell, Richard W., Metcalfe, Daniel J., Dunstone, Nigel, Burnside, Niall and Scott, Dawn M. (2008) The impact of fire on habitat use by the short nosed sengi (elephantulus brachrthynchus) in Northwest Province, South Africa African Zoology, 43 (1). pp. 45-52. ISSN 1562-7020

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Abstract

Several studies have investigated the numerical response of small mammal populations to fire, however, few have investigated behavioural responses to the subsequent habitat modification. In this study we investigated the impact of fire on home range, habitat use and activity patterns of the short snouted sengi (elephantulus brachyrhynchus) by radio tracking individuals before and after a fire event. All animals survived the passage of fire in termite mound refugia. Before the fire grassland was used more predominantly than thickets and E.brachyrhynchus habitat utilisation shifted to thickets after fire had removed the grass cover. Thicket was shown to be an important refuge both pre- and post-fire, however the proportion of thicket within the home range was greater post-fire. We conclude that the fire induced habitat modification resulted in a restriction of E.brachyrhynchus movements to patches of unburned vegetation. These behavioural responses are most likely caused by an increase in predation pressure from reduction in cover rather than a lack of food. This study highlights the importance of considering the landscape mosaic in fire management and allowing sufficient island patches to remain post-fire ensures the persistence of the small mammal fauna.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: fire; habitat modification; habitat-use; radio-trafficking; sengi
Subjects: F000 Physical Sciences > F800 Physical Geography and Environmental Sciences > F810 Environmental Geography
F000 Physical Sciences > F800 Physical Geography and Environmental Sciences > F890 Geographical and Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
D000 Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Faculties: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environment and Technology > Ecology, Landscape and Pollution Management
Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environment and Technology
Depositing User: editor environment
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2008
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2013 12:58
URI: http://eprints.brighton.ac.uk/id/eprint/1657

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