Zoological Studies

Vol. 45 No. 2, 2006

Swimming Ability of 5 Species of African Rainforest Murid Rodents in Relation to Their Habitat Preferences

Violaine Nicolas1,* and Marc Colyn2

1Muséum National d, Histoire Naturelle, Département de Systématique et Evolution, USM 601, Laboratoire Mammifères et Oiseaux, 55 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
2Unité Mixte de Recherche CNRS 6553, Université de Rennes 1, Station Biologique, 35380 Paimpont, France Tel: 33-2-99618188. E-mail: marc.colyn@univ-rennes1.fr

Violaine Nicolas and Marc Colyn (2006) The swimming abilities of 5 species of rainforest rodents (Heimyscus fumosus (Brosset et al.), Hybomys univittatus (Peters), Hylomyscus stella (Thomas), Malacomys longipes Milne-Edwards, and Praomys cf. misonnei Van der Straeten and Dieterlen) are described in order to discuss the relation between the ability of these species to escape flooding by swimming, and their preference for upland or flooded forest habitats. The 5 species exhibited a gradient of swimming abilities: the 2 upland species (H. univittatus and H. fumosus) were poor swimmers; the 2 habitat generalists (P. cf misonnei and H. stella) were better swimmers but did not use the underwater medium; and the species which preferentially inhabits flooded forest (M. longipes) could swim well on and below the water surface. These differences in swimming ability may be related to differences in the resistance of the fur to absorb water, tail and hind foot lengths, and the use of either continuous or intermittent swimming among these species.

Key words: Muridae, Gabon, Upland forest, Riparian forest, Swamp forest.

*Correspondence: Tel: 33-1-40793505. Fax: 33-1-40793063. E-mail: vnicolas@mnhn.fr