Small mammals in the human-dominated landscape in the northern Western Ghats of India

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Sameer Bajaru
Amol R. Kulavmode
Ranjit Manakadan


The Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot is under huge anthropogenic pressure, with unique flora and fauna facing severe threats from habitat fragmentation, loss, and degradation.  The northern Western Ghats has been poorly studied for its small mammal fauna, hence we examined small mammals near Pune from 2014 to 2017.  Live trapping was carried out in irrigated and rainfed agriculture fields, forests, and grasslands at low, mid, and high elevations.  A total of 538 individuals were trapped, representing 17 species of rodents and one shrew.  Most abundantly captured species were Millardia kondana (23%), Mus saxicola (19%), Suncus murinus (17%), and Mus booduga (13%).  Species richness and abundance of small mammals varied across the habitats.  High elevation grasslands were species-rich relative to low elevation grasslands and forests.  Our observations indicate that human disturbances play a role in determining the richness and abundance of small mammals in the area, where populations are under threat from urbanization, tourism, agriculture, grazing, and fire.  Habitat and species specific conservation measures need to be taken, coupled with in-depth species–habitat relationship studies, for the conservation of small mammal diversity of the northern Western Ghats.

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