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Resource Selection and Its Implications for Wide-Ranging Mammals of the Brazilian Cerrado
Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Author: Carly Vynne et al.

by Carly Vynne, Jonah L. Keim, Ricardo B. Machado, Jader Marinho-Filho, Leandro Silveira, Martha J. Groom, Samuel K. Wasser

Conserving animals beyond protected areas is critical because even the largest reserves may be too small to maintain viable populations for many wide-ranging species. Identification of landscape features that will promote persistence of a diverse array of species is a high priority, particularly, for protected areas that reside in regions of otherwise extensive habitat loss. This is the case for Emas National Park, a small but important protected area located in the Brazilian Cerrado, the world's most biologically diverse savanna. Emas Park is a large-mammal global conservation priority area but is too small to protect wide-ranging mammals for the long-term and conserving these populations will depend on the landscape surrounding the park. We employed novel, noninvasive methods to determine the relative importance of resources found within the park, as well as identify landscape features that promote persistence of wide-ranging mammals outside reserve borders. We used scat detection dogs to survey for five large mammals of conservation concern: giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), jaguar (Panthera onca), and puma (Puma concolor). We estimated resource selection probability functions for each species from 1,572 scat locations and 434 giant armadillo burrow locations. Results indicate that giant armadillos and jaguars are highly selective of natural habitats, which makes both species sensitive to landscape change from agricultural development. Due to the high amount of such development outside of the Emas Park boundary, the park provides rare resource conditions that are particularly important for these two species. We also reveal that both woodland and forest vegetation remnants enable use of the agricultural landscape as a whole for maned wolves, pumas, and giant anteaters. We identify those features and their landscape compositions that should be prioritized for conservation, arguing that a multi-faceted approach is required to protect these species.
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