Comparative demography and diversity of small mammals in precordilleran temperate rainforests of Southern Chile

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Meserve, P.L.
Martinez, D.R.
Rau, J.R.
Murua, R.
Lang, B.K.
Muñoz Pedreros, Andrés
Datos de publicación:
Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 80, N°3, 880-890, 1999
Bosque templado lluvioso - Mamíferos - Ecología
Small mammals were studied in two southern Chilean temperate rainforests in the precordillean Andes during 2 low-rainfall years following the 1982 El Niño event. Forests had somewhat different levels of canopy, shrub, and herbaceous cover, and species richness of trees but most of the same plants. Most captures were of four sigmodontine rodents, Akodon olivaceus, Abrothrix longipilis, Abrothrix sanborni, and Oligoryzomys longicaudatus; five other species and a putative hybrid were recorded. Maximum numbers were in January-July (late summer to winter) and lower numbers in August-December (late winter to early summer). All species had seasonal reproduction in September-April (spring to autumn). A. olivaceus and A. longipilis generally were long-lived, whereas survival rates were low for O. longicaudatus. Responses after the 1982 El Niño were small, and some populations increased during 1984. Populations of A. olivaceus fluctuated more than those of A. longipilis; those of A. sanborni were low and O. longicaudatus was sporadic and irruptive. Lower-elevational Chilean and precordilleran Argentine forests have similar species composition, but differences in demography and dominance of the former by more widespread, omnivorous A. olivaceus, animalivorous-fungivorous Abrothrix, and granivorous O. longicaudatus. Opportunities for immigration may explain greater homogeneity of populations of small mammals in Chilean rainforests relative to Argentine ones. Although responses to El Niño and subsequent droughts were weak, flowering episodes of bamboo (Chusquea) can have strong effects due to increased availability of food.