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Ecological role of the big-headed African mole-rat in Afroalpine ecosystem

Tachyoryctes macrocephalus © Tereza Vlasatá

The most famous inhabitant of Bale Mountains in Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Wolf, but the local community of rodents that make up its diet is just as interesting. The one that stands out is the big-headed African mole-rat (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus). The team of Radim Šumbera has thoroughly documented the ecological role this animal plays in the local environment. Its specific diet in combination with the tireless dredging of burrows significantly changes the soil properties and consequently the vegetation cover. When the burrows are abandoned, several smaller rodent species colonize them immediately, but soil and vegetation only slowly return to their original state.

Šklíba, J., Vlasatá, T., Lövy M., Hrouzková, E., Meheretu, Y., Silleroâ Zubiri, C., Šumbera, R. (2017). Ecological role of the giant root‐rat (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus) in the Afroalpine ecosystem. Integrative zoology12(4), 333-344. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1749-4877.12241/full