Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

Biology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Large trees important in the South African savanna are in decline. Initially, climate change and elephants were thought to be the cause. However, all reasons for the decline are unknown. I investigated how Namaqua rock mice potentially affect recruitment of tree seedlings through seed predation in South Africa. I used live traps to capture rodents during the dry season of June-August on Balule Nature Reserve (BNR). I exposed the mice to seed preference trials in enclosures to determine if they would eat seeds of three target tree species; marula (Sclerocarya birrea), knobthorn acacia (Acacia nigrescens), and red bushwillow (Combretum apiculatum) and if there were preferences among the species. I conducted 18 trials with individual mice. I compared the number of seeds removed and the damage to the seeds to determine if the mice may have an influence on the recruitment of these tree species. I found that Namaqua rock mice preferred the marula seeds over the knobthorn and red bushwillow seeds. I also estimated population densities of Namaqua rock mice and red veld rats. The average densities of Namaqua rock mice were 127 animals per hectare and 211 red veld rats per hectare.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Michael Stokes

Disciplines

Animal Sciences | Biology | Life Sciences

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