Jones, C J P; Carter, A M; Bennett, N C;
The placentation of the Hottentot golden mole (Amblysomus hottentotus) has been examined using light and electron microscopy and lectin histochemistry of nine specimens at both mid and late gestation. The placentae were lobulated towards the allantoic surface and the lobules contained roughly par...
Boonzaier, Julia; Van der Merwe, Elizabeth L; Bennett, Nigel C; Kotzé, Sanet H
The gastrointestinal morphology was investigated in three mammalian insectivorous species, namely Acomys spinosissimus, Crocidura cyanea, and Amblysomus hottentotus. The aim of the study was to provide a comprehensive morphological comparison between the different species and to explore whether anatomical gastrointestinal adaptations are associated with the insectivorous diet of these species. The shape, proportional length, and proportional surface areas of the different gastrointestinal regions were recorded and compared in the three insectivores. Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) and Alcian Blue/Periodic Acid Schiff (AB/PAS) were used for morphological assessment. In all three species, the stomach was simple and uncompartmentalized. The internal aspect of the stomach in A. spinosissimus was hemi-glandular, containing stratified squamous epithelium in the fundus, with glandular epithelium in the body and pyloric region. However, C. cyanea and A. hottentotus had wholly glandular stomachs. Paneth cells were not observed in the intestinal tracts of C. cyanea and A. hottentotus. Acomys spinosissimus was the only species studied that had a cecum. The proximal colonic region of A. spinosissimus had V-shaped mucosal folds. Histologically, C. cyanea had villi throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract (GIT), whereas for A. hottentotus villi were not present in the most distal gastrointestinal regions. In both C. cyanea and A. hottentotus, longitudinal mucosal folds were present in the distal part of the colon. The GITs of C. cyanea and A. hottentotus showed little morphological differentiation namely, a simple, glandular stomach and the lack of a cecum.
Relations between social status and the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone system in females of two cooperatively breeding species of African mole-rats, Cryptomys hottentotus hottentotus and Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae: neuroanatomical and neuroendocrinological studies.
Du Toit, Lydia; Bennett, Nigel C; Katz, Arieh A; Kalló, Imre; Coen, Clive W
In common (Cryptomys hottentotus hottentotus) and highveld (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae) mole-rats, reproduction is subject to two forms of regulation in addition to incest avoidance. These are the only social bathyergids known to restrict breeding to a particular season; furthermore, subordinate members of their colonies show suppressed reproduction throughout the year. Females from both species were assessed and compared for social and seasonal effects on the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) system. GnRH-immunoreactive (ir) structures were visualized immunohistochemically; GnRH content was determined by radioimmunoassay. In both species, GnRH-ir cell bodies and processes are loosely distributed along the septopreopticoinfundibular continuum, with dense fiber aggregations in the region of the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis and median eminence. The two species differ in the rostrocaudal distribution of their GnRH-ir cell bodies. In highveld mole-rats, most of these cells are in the septal/preoptic area; in common mole-rats, more than half of them are in the mediobasal hypothalamus. Compared with common mole-rats, highveld mole-rats have a greater total number of GnRH-ir cell bodies, higher GnRH content, and more intense GnRH immunoreactivity in the median eminence. Within highveld colonies, the nonreproductive females have larger GnRH-ir cell bodies, more intense GnRH immunoreactivity in the median eminence, and higher GnRH content than the reproductive females; these findings suggest inhibited release of GnRH in the nonreproductive, subordinate females. In contrast, in common mole-rat females, neither status nor season appears to affect the investigated parameters of the GnRH system; this suggests a predominantly behavioral basis to their suppressed reproduction.
Full Text Available Diets of Diplodus sargus capensis and D. cervinus hottentotus, sampled on the Tsitsikamma coast, are described. D. sargus was a generalist, feeding on a wide variety of reef associated invertebrates and algae. D. cervinus was more of a specialist feeding on comparatively few prey groups, the most important being polychaetes and amphipods. Juveniles of both species showed considerable spatial and dietary overlap, feeding predominantly on amphipods, polychaetes and harpacticoid copepods. Larger fish showed an increase in the range of prey species taken and dietary overlap was diminished. The dietary differences between these two species are thought to contribute to greater abundance and habitat range in D. sargus.
Diets of Diplodus sargus capensis and D. cervinus hottentotus, sampled on the Tsitsikamma coast, are described. D. sargus was a generalist, feeding on a wide variety of reef associated invertebrates and algae. D. cervinus was more of a specialist feeding on comparatively few prey groups, the most important being polychaetes and amphipods. Juveniles of both species showed considerable spatial and dietary overlap, feeding predominantly on amphipods, polychaetes and harpacticoid copepods. Larger...
Full Text Available The Greater Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany (GMPA region of southern Africa was recently designated as a centre of vertebrate endemism. The phylogeography of the vertebrate taxa occupying this region may provide insights into the evolution of faunal endemism in south-eastern Africa. Here we investigate the phylogeographic patterns of an understudied small mammal species assemblage (Amblysomus endemic to the GMPA, to test for cryptic diversity within the genus, and to better understand diversification across the region. We sampled specimens from 50 sites across the distributional range of Amblysomus, with emphasis on the widespread A. hottentotus, to analyse geographic patterns of genetic diversity using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA and nuclear intron data. Molecular dating was used to elucidate the evolutionary and phylogeographic history of Amblysomus. Our phylogenetic reconstructions show that A. hottentotus comprises several distinct lineages, or evolutionarily significant units (ESUs, some with restricted geographic ranges and thus worthy of conservation attention. Divergence of the major lineages dated to the early Pliocene, with later radiations in the GMPA during the late-Pliocene to early-Pleistocene. Evolutionary diversification within Amblysomus may have been driven by uplift of the Great Escarpment c. 5-3 million years ago (Ma, habitat changes associated with intensification of the east-west rainfall gradient across South Africa and the influence of subsequent global climatic cycles. These drivers possibly facilitated geographic spread of ancestral lineages, local adaptation and vicariant isolation. Our study adds to growing empirical evidence identifying East and southern Africa as cradles of vertebrate diversity.
Thomas, H. G.; Scantlebury, M.; Swanepoel, D.; Bateman, P. W.; Bennett, N. C.
Sociality in mole rats has been suggested to have evolved as a response to the widely dispersed food resources and the limited burrowing opportunities that result from sporadic rainfall events. In the most arid regions, individual foraging efficiency is reduced, and energetic constraints increase. In this study, we investigate seasonal differences in burrow architecture of the social Cryptomys hottentotus hottentotus in a mesic region. We describe burrow geometry in response to seasonal weather conditions for two seasons (wet and dry). Interactions occurred between seasons and colony size for the size of the burrow systems, but not the shape of the burrow systems. The fractal dimension values of the burrow systems did not differ between seasons. Thus, the burrow complexity was dependent upon the number of mole rats present in the social group.
Gillian N Robb
Full Text Available In the Western Cape three species of mole-rat occur in sympatry, however, little is known about differences in their dietary preferences. Dietary composition of the three species; the common mole-rat (Cryptomys hottentotus hottentotus, the Cape mole-rat (Georychus capensis and the Cape dune mole-rat (Bathyergus suillus were examined using stable isotope analysis. Blood, fur and claw samples were collected from 70 mole-rats, in addition to several potential food items, to assess food selection of the three species under natural conditions. Overall there was a significant difference in the isotopic composition (δ(13C and δ(15N between all three species and significant differences in their diet composition. There were also significant differences between tissues in all three species suggesting temporal variation in diet. The small size and colonial lifestyle of C. h. hottentotus allows it to feed almost 100% on bulbs, while the solitary and larger species G. capensis and B. suillus fed to a greater extent on other resources such as grasses and clover. B. suillus, the largest of the species, had the most generalized diet. However, overall all species relied most heavily upon geophytes and consumed the same species suggesting competition for resources could exist. We also showed a high level of individual variation in diet choices. This was most pronounced in B. suillus and G. capensis and less so in C. h. hottentotus. We demonstrate that stable isotope analysis can successfully be applied to examine dietary patterns in subterranean mammals and provide insights into foraging patterns and dietary variation at both the inter and intra population level.
Full Text Available A survey of the small mammals of the Addo Elephant National Park resulted in a checklist, as well as information on relative numbers, distribution within the Park, reproductive activity, sex ratios, and body measurements. Forty mammals species occur in the Park, while three re-introduced species probably do not occur any longer. Of the 40 species 28 are considered small mammals comprising 13 rodent, eight carnivore, two shrew, two bat, one primate and one lagomorph species, as well as the aardvark: Crociduraflavescens, C. cyanea infumata, Rousettus aegyptiacus, Eptesicus capensis, Cercopithecus pygerythrus, Canis mesomelas, Ictonyx striatus, Poecilogale albinucha, Genetta sp., Herpestes pulverulentus, Suricata suricatta, Proteles cristatus, Felis caracal, Orycteropus afer, Lepus saxatilis, Cryptomys hottentotus, Hystrix africae-australis, Pedetes capensis, Graphiurus murinus, Aethomys namaquensis, Praomys natalensis, Rhabdomys pumilio, Mus minutoides, Rattus rattus, Saccostomys campestris, Desmodillus auricularis, Otomys irroratus and 0. unisulcatus.
Seiffert Erik R
Full Text Available Abstract Background The placental mammalian clade Afrotheria is now supported by diverse forms of genomic data, but interordinal relationships within, and morphological support for, the group remains elusive. As a means for addressing these outstanding problems, competing hypotheses of afrotherian interordinal relationships were tested through simultaneous parsimony analysis of a large data set (> 4,590 parsimony informative characters containing genomic data (> 17 kb of nucleotide data, chromosomal associations, and retroposons and 400 morphological characters scored across 16 extant and 35 extinct afrotherians. Results Parsimony analysis of extant taxa alone recovered the interordinal topology (Afrosoricida, ((Macroscelidea, Tubulidentata, (Hyracoidea, (Proboscidea, Sirenia. Analysis following addition of extinct taxa instead supported Afroinsectivora (Afrosoricida + Macroscelidea and Pseudoungulata (Tubulidentata + Paenungulata, as well as Tethytheria (Proboscidea + Sirenia. This latter topology is, however, sensitive to taxon deletion and different placements of the placental root, and numerous alternative interordinal arrangements within Afrotheria could not be statistically rejected. Relationships among extinct stem members of each afrotherian clade were more stable, but one alleged stem macroscelidean (Herodotius never grouped with that clade and instead consistently joined pseudoungulates or paenungulates. When character transformations were optimized onto a less resolved afrotherian tree that reflects uncertainty about the group's interordinal phylogeny, a total of 21 morphological features were identified as possible synapomorphies of crown Afrotheria, 9 of which optimized unambiguously across all character treatments and optimization methods. Conclusion Instability in afrotherian interordinal phylogeny presumably reflects rapid divergences during two pulses of cladogenesis – the first in the Late Cretaceous, at and just after the
Full Text Available The distribution of parasites among hosts is often characterised by a high degree of heterogeneity with a small number of hosts harbouring the majority of parasites. Such patterns of aggregation have been linked to variation in host exposure and susceptibility as well as parasite traits and environmental factors. Host exposure and susceptibility may differ with sexes, reproductive effort and group size. Furthermore, environmental factors may affect both the host and parasite directly and contribute to temporal heterogeneities in parasite loads. We investigated the contributions of host and parasite traits as well as season on parasite loads in highveld mole-rats (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae. This cooperative breeder exhibits a reproductive division of labour and animals live in colonies of varying sizes that procreate seasonally. Mole-rats were parasitised by lice, mites, cestodes and nematodes with mites (Androlaelaps sp. and cestodes (Mathevotaenia sp. being the dominant ecto- and endoparasites, respectively. Sex and reproductive status contributed little to the observed parasite prevalence and abundances possibly as a result of the shared burrow system. Clear seasonal patterns of parasite prevalence and abundance emerged with peaks in summer for mites and in winter for cestodes. Group size correlated negatively with mite abundance while it had no effect on cestode burdens and group membership affected infestation with both parasites. We propose that the mode of transmission as well as social factors constrain parasite propagation generating parasite patterns deviating from those commonly predicted.
Olive, Marie-Marie; Goodman, Steven M; Reynes, Jean-Marc
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a zoonotic arbovirus affecting primarily domestic ruminants and humans. Numerous vector species are known or implicated in the transmission of RVFV. The role of mammals in the maintenance of RVFV, and the existence of a wild mammal reservoir in the epidemiologic cycle of RVFV, remain largely unknown. Our objective is to present a detailed review of studies undertaken on RVFV, often associated with wild mammals, with the aim of focusing future research on potential reservoirs of the virus. Natural and experimental infections related to RVFV in several mammalian orders, including Artiodactyla, Chiroptera, Rodentia, Primata (nonhuman), Perissodactyla, Carnivora, Proboscidea, Erinaceomorpha, and Lagomorpha, are reviewed; the first four orders have received the greatest attention. The possible role of wild ruminants, especially African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), is also discussed. Conflicting results have been published concerning rodents but, based on the literature, the likely candidate species include the African genera Arvicanthis and Micaelamys and the widely introduced roof rat (Rattus rattus). Members of the orders Chiroptera and Rodentia should receive greater attention associated with new research programs. For the other orders mentioned above, few data are available. We are unaware of any investigation concerning the orders Afrosoricida and Soricomorpha, which are represented in the geographic area of RVFV and can be abundant. As a first step to resolve the question of wild mammals as a reservoir of RVFV, serologic and virologic surveys should be promoted during epizootic periods to document infected wild animals and, in the case of positive results, extended to interepidemic periods to explore the role of wild animals as possible reservoirs.
Svartman, M; Stanyon, R
Afrotheria is the clade of placental mammals that, together with Xenarthra, Euarchontoglires and Laurasiatheria, represents 1 of the 4 main recognized supraordinal eutherian clades. It reunites 6 orders of African origin: Proboscidea, Sirenia, Hyracoidea, Macroscelidea, Afrosoricida and Tubulidentata. The apparently unlikely relationship among such disparate morphological taxa and their possible basal position at the base of the eutherian phylogenetic tree led to a great deal of attention and research on the group. The use of biomolecular data was pivotal in Afrotheria studies, as they were the basis for the recognition of this clade. Although morphological evidence is still scarce, a plethora of molecular data firmly attests to the phylogenetic relationship among these mammals of African origin. Modern cytogenetic techniques also gave a significant contribution to the study of Afrotheria, revealing chromosome signatures for the group as a whole, as well as for some of its internal relationships. The associations of human chromosomes HSA1/19 and 5/21 were found to be chromosome signatures for the group and provided further support for Afrotheria. Additional chromosome synapomorphies were also identified linking elephants and manatees in Tethytheria (the associations HSA2/3, 3/13, 8/22, 18/19 and the lack of HSA4/8) and elephant shrews with the aardvark (HSA2/8, 3/20 and 10/17). Herein, we review the current knowledge on Afrotheria chromosomes and genome evolution. The already available data on the group suggests that further work on this apparently bizarre assemblage of mammals will provide important data to a better understanding on mammalian genome evolution.
Full Text Available Abstract Background The dentate gyrus is well known for its mossy fiber projection to the hippocampal field 3 (CA3 and its extensive associational and commissural connections. The dentate gyrus, on the other hand, has only few projections to the CA1 and the subiculum, and none have clearly been shown to extrahippocampal target regions. Results Using anterograde and retrograde tracer techniques in the Madagascan lesser hedgehog tenrec (Afrosoricidae, Afrotheria it was shown in this study that the dentate hilar region gave rise to a faint, but distinct, bilateral projection to the most rostromedial portion of the olfactory tubercle, particularly its molecular layer. Unlike the CA1 and the subiculum the dentate gyrus did not project to the accumbens nucleus. A control injection into the medial septum-diagonal band complex also retrogradely labeled cells in the dentate hilus, but these neurons were found immediately adjacent to the heavily labeled CA3, while the tracer injections into the rostromedial tubercle did not reveal any labeling in CA3. Conclusion The dentate hilar neurons projecting to the olfactory tubercle cannot be considered displaced cells of CA3 but represent true dentato-tubercular projection neurons. This projection supplements the subiculo-tubercular projection. Both terminal fields overlap among one another as well as with the fiber terminations arising in the anteromedial frontal cortex. The rostromedial olfactory tubercle might represent a distinct ventral striatal target area worth investigating in studies of the parallel processing of cortico-limbic information in tenrec as well as in cat and monkey.
Schoeman, M Corrie; Jacobs, David S
The allotonic frequency hypothesis proposes that certain insectivorous bat species can prey upon moths that can hear bat echolocation calls by using echolocation frequencies outside the sensitivity range of moth ears. The hypothesis predicts that the peak frequencies of bat echolocation calls are correlated with the incidence of moths in the diets of these bats. The aim of this study was to test this prediction on a bat community dominated by bats using low duty cycle echolocation calls, i.e. aerial foraging, insectivorous species using frequency modulated calls. The community consisted of nine species, two molossids, Sauromys petrophillus and Tadarida aegyptiaca, five vespertilionids, Eptesicus capensis, Eptesicus hottentotus, Miniopteris schreibersii, Myotis tricolor, and Myotis lesueuri, one rhinolophid, Rhinolophus clivosus, and one nycterid, Nycteris thebaica. The insect fauna in the habitat used by the bat community was suited to the testing of the allotonic frequency hypothesis because more than 90% of the moths comprising the insect fauna were tympanate. These included Pyralidae (3.8%), Geometridae (44.9%), Notodontidae (3.8%), Arctiidae (4.6%), Lymantriidae (0.8%) and Noctuidae (32.4%). As predicted, peak echolocation frequency was correlated with the incidence of moths in the diets of these nine species (r=0.98, df=7, Pwing area (t=-3.41, n=129, Pwing morphology, as part of the same adaptive complex. It is unlikely that dietary differences were due to temporal and spatial differences in the availability of prey because the pattern of differences in skull morphology of the nine species supported our dietary analyses. The skull morphology of a bat represents a historical record of the kind of diet it has become adapted to over its evolutionary history. These results suggest that prey defences may mediate other factors structuring bat communities, e.g. competition. Competition may be reduced for those species of bats that can circumvent prey defences.