Species persistence in fragmented landscapes is intimately related to the quality, structure, and context of remaining habitat remnants. Riparian vegetation is legally protected within private landholdings in Brazil, so we quantitatively assessed occupancy patterns of terrestrial mammals in these remnants, examining under which circumstances different species effectively use them. We selected 38 riparian forest patches and five comparable riparian sites within continuous forest, at which we installed four to five camera-traps per site (199 camera-trap stations). Terrestrial mammal assemblages were sampled for 60 days per station during the dry seasons of 2013 and 2014. We modelled species occupancy and detection probabilities within riparian forest remnants, and examined the effects of patch size, habitat quality, and landscape structure on occupancy probabilities. We then scaled-up modelled occupancies to all 1915 riparian patches throughout the study region to identify which remnants retain the greatest potential to work as habitat for terrestrial vertebrates. Of the ten species for which occupancy was modelled, six responded to forest quality (remnant degradation, cattle intrusion, palm aggregations, and understorey density) or structure (remnant width, isolation, length, and area of the patch from which it originates). Patch suitability was lower considering habitat quality than landscape structure, and virtually all riparian remnants were unsuitable to maintain a high occupancy probability for all species that responded to forest patch quality or structure. Beyond safeguarding legal compliance concerning riparian remnant amount, ensuring terrestrial vertebrate persistence in fragmented landscapes will require curbing the drivers of forest degradation within private landholdings.
Biodiversity and Conservation – Springer Journals
Published: May 29, 2018
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