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...
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.
G de Graaff
Full Text Available Aspects of the ecology and distribution of the Damara mole-rat (Cryptomys hottentotus damarensis are discussed relative to its life in the arid Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. The value of coat colour as a taxonomic criterion for the subspecies is discussed. Notes are also presented on reproduction, aspects of behaviour such as: habitat, nests, orientation, activity, locomotion, voice, food, feeding and social life, symbiosis, commensalism, parasites and predators.
Full Text Available It is important to quantify patterns of morphological diversity to enhance our understanding of variation in ecological and evolutionary traits. Here, we present a quantitative analysis of morphological diversity in a family of small mammals, the tenrecs (Afrosoricida, Tenrecidae. Tenrecs are often cited as an example of an exceptionally morphologically diverse group. However, this assumption has not been tested quantitatively. We use geometric morphometric analyses of skull shape to test whether tenrecs are more morphologically diverse than their closest relatives, the golden moles (Afrosoricida, Chrysochloridae. Tenrecs occupy a wider range of ecological niches than golden moles so we predict that they will be more morphologically diverse. Contrary to our expectations, we find that tenrec skulls are only more morphologically diverse than golden moles when measured in lateral view. Furthermore, similarities among the species-rich Microgale tenrec genus appear to mask higher morphological diversity in the rest of the family. These results reveal new insights into the morphological diversity of tenrecs and highlight the importance of using quantitative methods to test qualitative assumptions about patterns of morphological 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.
Full Text Available Data on the distributions of seven species of bats in South Africa are discussed. Four species, Hipposideros commersoni, Pipistrellus rueppellii, Tadarida ansorgei and T. fulminans are reported for the first time from South Africa and all but T. @ ansorgei from the Kruger National Park. Rhinolophus simulator and Kerivoula lanosa are recorded for the first time from the Kruger National Park. The subspecies relationship of Eptesicus hottentotus in the eastern part of South Africa is reviewed.
I.L Rautenbach; D.A. Schlitter; L.E.O Braack
Data on the distributions of seven species of bats in South Africa are discussed. Four species, Hipposideros commersoni, Pipistrellus rueppellii, Tadarida ansorgei and T. fulminans are reported for the first time from South Africa and all but T. @ ansorgei from the Kruger National Park. Rhinolophus simulator and Kerivoula lanosa are recorded for the first time from the Kruger National Park. The subspecies relationship of Eptesicus hottentotus in the eastern part of South Africa is reviewed.
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.
Mason, Matthew J; Lucas, Sarah J; Wise, Erica R; Stein, Robin S; Duer, Melinda J
The densities of middle ear ossicles of golden moles (family Chrysochloridae, order Afrosoricida) were measured using the buoyancy method. The internal structure of the malleus was examined by high-resolution computed tomography, and solid-state NMR was used to determine relative phosphorus content. The malleus density of the desert golden mole Eremitalpa granti (2.44 g/cm3) was found to be higher than that reported in the literature for any other terrestrial mammal, whereas the ossicles of other golden mole species are not unusually dense. The increased density in Eremitalpa mallei is apparently related both to a relative paucity of internal vascularization and to a high level of mineralization. This high density is expected to augment inertial bone conduction, used for the detection of seismic vibrations, while limiting the skull modifications needed to accommodate the disproportionately large malleus. The mallei of the two subspecies of E. granti, E. g. granti and E. g. namibensis, were found to differ considerably from one another in both size and shape. PMID:16944164
Full Text Available The vomeronasal system (VNS mediates pheromonal communication in mammals. From the vomeronasal organ, two populations of sensory neurons, expressing either Galphai2 or Galphao proteins, send projections that end in glomeruli distributed either at the rostral or caudal half of the accessory olfactory bulb (AOB, respectively. Neurons at the AOB contact glomeruli of a single subpopulation. The dichotomic segregation of AOB glomeruli has been described in opossums, rodents and rabbits, while Primates and Laurasiatheres present the Galphai2-pathway only, or none at all (such as apes, some bats and aquatic species. We studied the AOB of the Madagascan lesser tenrec Echinops telfairi (Afrotheria: Afrosoricida and found that Galphai2 and Galphao proteins are expressed in rostral and caudal glomeruli, respectively. However, the segregation of vomeronasal glomeruli at the AOB is not exclusive, as both pathways contained some glomeruli transposed into the adjoining subdomain. Moreover, some glomeruli seem to contain intermingled afferences from both pathways. Both the transposition and heterogeneity of vomeronasal afferences are features, to our knowledge, never reported before. The organization of AOB glomeruli suggests that synaptic integration might occur at the glomerular layer. Whether intrinsic AOB neurons may make synaptic contact with axon terminals of both subpopulations is an interesting possibility that would expand our understanding about the integration of vomeronasal pathways.
Full Text Available Parasites deplete the resources of their host and can consequently affect the investment in competing traits (e.g. reproduction and immune defence. The immunocompetence handicap hypothesis posits that testosterone (T mediates trade-offs between parasite defence and reproductive investment by suppressing immune function in male vertebrates while more recently a role for glucocorticoids (e.g. cortisol (C in resource allocation has been suggested. These hypotheses however, have not always found support in wild animals, possibly because most studies focus on a single parasite species, whereas infections with multiple parasites are the rule in nature. We measured body mass, T- and C-levels of wild male highveld mole-rats (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae naturally uninfected or infected with a cestode (Mathevotaenia sp. right after capture. Subsequently, we injected animals subcutaneously with a lipopolysaccharide (LPS to simulate a bacterial infection and recorded changes in body mass, food intake, haematological parameters and hormone levels. As a control, animals were injected with saline. Natural infection neither affected initial body mass nor C-levels, whereas infected males had significantly reduced T-levels. We observed significant reductions in food intake, body mass and T in response to LPS but not saline while C increased. However, this response did not vary with infection status. In contrast, final body mass and some haematological parameters were significantly lowered in infected males. Our results suggest that naturally infected males are able to compensate for resource depletion by physiological adjustments. However, this leaves them less tolerant to the challenges of a secondary infection.
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.
McKechnie, Andrew E; Mzilikazi, Nomakwezi
Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the number of Afrotropical endotherms known to avoid mismatches between energy supply and demand by using daily torpor and/or hibernation. Among mammals, heterothermy has been reported in 40 species in six orders, namely Macroscelidea, Afrosoricida, Rodentia, Eulipotyphla, Primates and Chiroptera. These species span a range in body mass of 7-770 g, with minimum heterothermic body temperatures ranging from 1-27°C and bout length varying from 1 h to 70 days. Daily torpor is the most common form of heterothermy, with true hibernation being observed in only seven species, Graphiurus murinus, Graphiurus ocularis, Atelerix frontalis, Cheirogaleus medius, Cheirogaleus major, Microcebus murinus and Microcebus griseorufus. The traditional distinction between daily torpor and hibernation is blurred in some species, with free-ranging individuals exhibiting bouts of > 24 h and body temperatures < 16 °C, but none of the classical behaviours associated with hibernation. Several species bask in the sun during rewarming. Among birds, heterothermy has been reported in 16 species in seven orders, and is more pronounced in phylogenetically older taxa. Both in mammals and birds, patterns of heterothermy can vary dramatically among species occurring at a particular site, and even among individuals of a single species. For instance, patterns of heterothermy among cheirogalid primates in western Madagascar vary from daily torpor to uninterrupted hibernation for up to seven months. Other examples of variation among closely-related species involve small owls, elephant shrews and vespertilionid bats. There may also be variation in terms of the ecological correlates of torpor within a species, as is the case in the Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma. PMID:21705792
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.