Diversity in small mammals from eastern Lake Turkana, Kenya

P.W. Webala, C. Carugati, M. Fasola


Rodents and insectivores were surveyed, using live trapping, at seven sites on the eastern side of Lake Turkana, one of the remotest parts of Kenya, and at study areas of biological distinctiveness, such as Sibiloi National Park and the Mount Kulal Biosphere Reserve. A total of 191 individuals of 11 species were captured, but only two rodents (Acomys percivali Dollman 1911 and A. wilsoni Thomas 1982) were numerous at two sites. The presence of the lesser Egyptian gerbil Gerbillus gerbillus Olivier 1801 is a new record for Kenya. We were unable to arrive at a conclusive explanation of the differences in species richness and in habitat use that we recorded for the seven sites, because our samples were too limited. However, certain patterns suggest the influence of different factors, such as habitat diversity, ecological isolation (the forest of Mount Kulal), and geographic isolation (Central Island, in the lake). It is possible that the impact of livestock overgrazing is a major limiting factor for small mammal communities.

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