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Bull World Health Organ. 1975;52(4-6):677-89.

Evaluation of demographic parameters of native rodent populations and implications for control.


The ecology of the multimammate mouse ,Mastomys natalensis, is reviewed and approximations are derived for the parameters governing population growth. By means of computer simulation, the relative importance of the timing of reproduction, the age class distribution or age structure of the population, the competition between Mastomys and Rattus, and the interaction with a predator are evaluated. Although each of these demographic or ecological factors modifies the fate of the Mastomys population, the greatest single impact results from a reproductive season that is divided into two parts rather than a single continuous reproductive season. Division into two parts, correlated with a similar distribution of rainfall, allows time for maturing of the young born early in the season and for production of young by them, thus adding to the momentum of population increase. The interaction of density-dependent factors controlling population growth, competition with another rodent, or predation by a Viverrid predator, may increase the growth rate of the Mastomys population or may depress population growth rate, even to the point of extinction. These simulation studies demonstrate the necessity for critical evaluation of the demographic parameters and ecological characteristics of a particular Mastomys population before an effective control programme can be designed. They also demonstrate, however, that if the programme is based upon sound ecological theory control can be effected.

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