Body size variability and water balance: A comparison between mainland and island populations ofMastomys huberti (Rodentia: Muridae) in Senegal

Abstract

Generally rodents are found to be larger on islands than on the mainland. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and the aim of this paper is to examine one of them. On the mainland of Senegal,Mastomys huberti occupies humid habitats. However, it occurs also on dry and sandy islands (Saloum delta), where its representatives are dwarf. Since water availability appeared to be the limiting factor in these islands when compared to the mainland, we studied water turnover characteristics in relation to body size, in mainland and island populations at the end of the dry season, under both field and laboratory conditions. All populations were found to be water balanced in their natural habitats. They presented similar rates of water turnover, even though island animals were subjected to stronger constraints than mainland ones. Laboratory experiments suggested that the physiological plasticity of one of the island populations may be reduced. Island populations have a higher kidney size to body weight ratio than those from the mainland. We propose that smaller size in the islands allows the maintenance of water balance with a smaller amount of water, and that a higher ratio of kidney filtration surface to body size may helpMastomys huberti to survive in dry islands. We discuss the factors responsible for body size variability and variation in water exchange characteristics and conclude that different factors could explain body size variation among island populations, depending on the species considered and the ecological constraints met within the islands.

DOI: 10.1007/BF01928905

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Cite this paper

@article{Ganem1995BodySV, title={Body size variability and water balance: A comparison between mainland and island populations ofMastomys huberti (Rodentia: Muridae) in Senegal}, author={Guila Ganem and Laurent Granjon and Kadia Ba and J. -M. Duplantier}, journal={Experientia}, year={1995}, volume={51}, pages={402-410} }