Distributional range, ecology, and mating system of the Cape mole-rat (Georychus capensis) family Bathyergidae

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 13
  • Abstract:

    Abstract: Interpopulation variation in life-history patterns are influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Life-history patterns have been intensely studied in the eusocial African bathyergid species, largely neglecting the solitary species. Of these solitary genera, the Cape mole-rat (Georychus capensis (Pallas, 1778)) is endemic to South Africa with a disjunct distribution across its range. Knowledge regarding this species is rudimentary; therefore, this study aimed to investigate the current distribution of the species with particular attention to common ecological variables, differences in body size between localities and sexes, as well as its reproduction and mating system. Georychus is a habitat specialist restricted to specific ecological areas. A lack of sexual size dimorphism and correlation between male testis size and number of females in the population, suggests a polygynous mating system, facilitated by the spatial distribution of the sexes. A positive relationship between male testes size and percentage of females in populations sampled suggests that larger sperm reserves (i.e., larger testes) are required in populations with a higher percentage of females. In addition, mating variables (testicular size and litter size) are linked to ecological factors (elevation, aridity, soil type, and vegetation type) that could impact mate searching, mating success, and food resources.