Diversity of terrestrial small mammals and prevalence of haemopathogens in rattus rattus of Mafia island, Tanzania

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


This study presents the diversity of terrestrial small mammals and prevalence of haemopathogens in Mafia Islands and the small islands (Chole, Jibondo, Juani and Shungimbili) which are associated with Mafia. Terrestrial small mammals comprise a group of mammals including volant and non-volant which are cosmopolitan and successful due to their wide range of feeding, adaptive reproduction strategies and habitat occupation. A study on the diversity of small mammals and their haemopathogens prevalence was conducted in Mafia Island and small islands associated with it from August to October 2021. A total of 120 rodents were captured by direct method using Sherman traps and indirectly using camera traps. Each directly trapped individual was immobilized with ethanol and parameters such as weight and sex were recorded. The samples that were taken include an earpiece which was preserved in Eppendorf tube containing 90% ethanol for further confirmatory species identification using molecular techniques. For the purpose of molecularly identifying the hemopathogens, 0.5 ml of blood was collected from the retro-orbital sinus using a capillary tube and kept as a dried blood spot on filter paper (Whatman paper). According to the findings, all of the collected rodents were classified as Rattus rattus and belonged to the RrC lineage I. One Crocidura hildegardae shrew was also trapped.Our camera traps recorded black and rufous sengi Rhynchocyon petersi, blue monkey Cercopithecus mitis, blue duiker Cephalophus monticola, the introduced Small Indian Genet Viverricula indica, and the red bush squirrel Paraxerus palliatus. Of the 120 Rattus rattus, 13.33% tested positive for Bartonella DNA. Prevalence between the six studied sites was significantly different (df = 5 and p-value <0.001). None of the rickettsia, leptospira, brucella, anaplasma, coxiella and trypanosoma was detected. Despite the limited time of data collection, our results show that there is low diversity of small mammals on the Mafia islands, with R. rattus dominating in all small islands. Also, the results show the presence of Uncultured Bartonella spp among other haemopathogen being obtained in R. rattus. The study recommends further studies in the rest of forest patches in Mafia and to also explore the diversity of flying mammals which was not included in this study but also to explore more on the prevalence of haemopathogens within the island. Key Words: Diversity, Small mammals, Rattus rattus, Haemopathogens, Bartonella, Mafia




Terrestrial small mammals, Mafia Island, Tanzania, Haemopathogens, Rattus rattus