, Volume 13, Issue 13, pp 2519-2536

Effectiveness of a reserve network for the conservation of the endemic marsupial Micoureus travassosi in Atlantic Forest remnants in southeastern Brazil

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Abstract

Habitat loss and fragmentation are serious threats to biodiversity conservation in the Atlantic Forest. A network of protected reserves is essential to the protection of native fauna and flora. However, internal and external factors may threaten the preservation of biota, thus population viability analyses (PVA) are important tools in reserve design and management planning. A PVA was carried out, using the computer package VORTEX, to assess the effectiveness of the reserve network of Rio de Janeiro State in Brazil in retaining viable populations of the endemic marsupial Micoureus travassosi. The PVA takes into account demographic, genetic and environmental stochastic events and catastrophes (fire). Rio de Janeiro state has 31 reserves, and 20 of those were considered to retain viable populations for 100 years, whereas eight were predicted to suffer from genetic decay, two from both genetic decay and demographic stochasticity, and one of them probably has an extinct population. The minimum area of suitable habitat needed to maintain a minimum viable population of M. travassosi is estimated at 3600 ha. Sensitivity analysis was run for mortality, sex ratio, percentage of reproductive females, inbreeding depression and probability of catastrophes, and suggests that inbreeding depression is important in small population sizes, whereas the effects of catastrophes were significant only for large populations. Although the model indicates that some populations will suffer from demographic and/or genetic stochasticity, the reserve network of Rio de Janeiro state will likely keep M. travassosi's populations for the next 100 years.