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Persistence of medium and large mammals in a highly fragmented tropical forest: potential distribution, landscape effects and conservation priorities

Grant number: 22/13070-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): December 10, 2022
Effective date (End): December 09, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Applied Ecology
Principal Investigator:Luís Fábio Silveira
Grantee:Mayara Dantas Guimarães Beltrão
Supervisor: Maria Luisa da Silva Pinto Jorge
Host Institution: Museu de Zoologia (MZ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Vanderbilt University (VU), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:20/02570-2 - Terrestrial mammals of Pernambuco endemism center as indicators of environmental integrity, BP.PD


Loss and fragmentation of native habitats are threats to mammalian diversity. In fragmented landscapes, species are affected by attributes at different spatial scales. Low population densities and loss of mammalian species in the Atlantic Forest (AF) are known to have negative effects on ecological interactions. Such effects may be more severe in the Northeastern portion of the AF, the Pernambuco Endemism Center (PEC), a biodiversity hotspot and the second largest sugarcane producer in the world. Attributes of medium and large sized mammals, such as habitat requirements, the need for large home ranges, and direct persecution for food or conflict, make them the first animals to disappear from landscapes affected by anthropogenic impacts. Nevertheless, there are still some species persisting in some of the remaining patches of natural forest of the region. The objective of this project is to elucidate, at two scales, which landscape and bioclimatic factors better predict mammal occurrence and diversity. To answer those questions, I collected mammal occurrence data with camera traps and also will use literature data and online databases. I will evaluate the relationships between mammal diversity and occurrence and landscape and bioclimatic variables through occupancy and species distribution models. With this study, I intend to better understand some thresholds of the species persistence in the studied region and use my results to contribute to conservation policies, including the suggestion for the creation of new protected areas in PEC, to maximize long-term persistence of the mammalian assemblage and the ecosystem services and functions that they provide. (AU)

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