Habitat selection and daily activity of giant molerats Tachyoryctes macrocephalus: Significance to the Ethiopian wolf Canis simensis in the Afroalpine ecosystem
Sillero-Zubiri C., Tattersall FH., Macdonald DW.
The giant molerat Tachyoryctes macrocephalus is a high-altitude specialist endemic to the Bale Mountains, Ethiopia, and an important prey species for the endangered Ethiopian wolf Canis simensis. We assessed molerat prevalence, habitat preferences and availability to wolves, using direct observation and transect sampling for field signs. Mean densities of molerats ranged from 17/ha to 40/ha, and they were most prevalent in Afroalpine grasslands, particularly along swamp shores in the Web Valley. Wolf densities were greatest in habitats with highest molerat populations. Molerats spent just under an hour a day above ground, and their peak activity periods correlated positively with wolf foraging activity. Molerat distribution may be restricted by thermoregulatory and burrowing requirements: field signs were most abundant where soil depth was greater than 50 cm. Conservation measures aimed at the Ethiopian wolf in the Bale Mountains should take account of the role of the giant molerat. © 1995.