Understanding the structure of rodent species assemblages and land use change on the occurrence of the rodent host of Lassa Fever.

David Simons https://github.com/diddrog11/rodent_trapping (The Royal Veterinary College, London, UK)https://www.rvc.ac.uk

Study questions

  1. What is the structure of rodent species assemblages in the Lassa fever endemic region of Sierra Leone?
  2. Do these assemblage structures and species richness vary by land use type?
  3. How might these assemblages change under different future land use and climate change scenarios and what impact may this have on the hazard of Lassa fever spillover events?

Study design

Study area

We conducted rodent trapping at 7 trapping sites within 4 villages in the Lassa fever endemic zone of the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone (Figure 1A). We surveyed the rodent community in forested, fallow, agricultural and areas of human occupation along an anthropogenic land use gradient. Eastern Sierra Leone has undergone significant deforestation and conversion to agricultural land, currently 55.8% is designated as primary and secondary forest, 31.1% as shrubland, 12.1% as agricultural land and 0.9% as areas of human occupation. Villages were enrolled based on accessibility to the sites during all seasons, discussions with the Lassa fever outreach team at Kenema Government Hospital and acceptability of the protocol to the village community. Villages and trapping sites were selected to be representative at the study level for land use in Eastern Sierra Leone.