European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 359–368 | Cite as

Influence of multi-scale landscape structure on the occurrence of carnivorous mammals in a human-modified savanna, Brazil

  • Maria Carolina Lyra-Jorge
  • Milton Cezar Ribeiro
  • Giordano Ciocheti
  • Leandro Reverberi Tambosi
  • Vânia Regina Pivello
Original Paper


São Paulo is the most developed state in Brazil and contains few fragments of native ecosystems, generally surrounded by intensive agriculture lands. Despite this, some areas still shelter large native animals. We aimed at understanding how medium and large carnivores use a mosaic landscape of forest/savanna and agroecosystems, and how the species respond to different landscape parameters (percentage of landcover and edge density), in a multi-scale perspective. The response variables were: species richness, carnivore frequency and frequency for the three most recorded species (Puma concolor, Chrysocyon brachyurus and Leopardus pardalis). We compared 11 competing models using Akaike's information criterion (AIC) and assessed model support using weight of AIC. Concurrent models were combinations of landcover types (native vegetation, “cerrado” formations, “cerradão” and eucalypt plantation), landscape feature (percentage of landcover and edge density) and spatial scale. Herein, spatial scale refers to the radius around a sampling point defining a circular landscape. The scales analyzed were 250 (fine), 1,000 (medium) and 2,000 m (coarse). The shape of curves for response variables (linear, exponential and power) was also assessed. Our results indicate that species with high mobility, P. concolor and C. brachyurus, were best explained by edge density of the native vegetation at a coarse scale (2,000 m). The relationship between P. concolor and C. brachyurus frequency had a negative power-shaped response to explanatory variables. This general trend was also observed for species richness and carnivore frequency. Species richness and P. concolor frequency were also well explained by a second concurrent model: edge density of cerradão at the fine (250 m) scale. A different response was recorded for L. pardalis, as the frequency was best explained for the amount of cerradão at the fine (250 m) scale. The curve of response was linearly positive. The contrasting results (P. concolor and C. brachyurus vs L. pardalis) may be due to the much higher mobility of the two first species, in comparison with the third. Still, L. pardalis requires habitat with higher quality when compared with other two species. This study highlights the importance of considering multiple spatial scales when evaluating species responses to different habitats. An important and new finding was the prevalence of edge density over the habitat extension to explain overall carnivore distribution, a key information for planning and management of protected areas.


Brazilian savanna Mammal distribution Habitat use Landscape ecology Habitat heterogeneity 



The authors are thankful to Dr. Carlos Alberto Vettorazzi for his suggestions on a previous phase of this study and to Neotropical Grassland Conservancy and CNPQ for financial support. We are also very thankful to Patrick James, Danilo Boscolo and Tadeu Siqueira for their contributions in a later version of the paper. MCR thanks to Jean Paul Metzger's and Marie-Josee Fortin's research groups for all valuable discussions on landscape ecology and biodiversity conservation fields.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Carolina Lyra-Jorge
    • 1
  • Milton Cezar Ribeiro
    • 1
  • Giordano Ciocheti
    • 1
  • Leandro Reverberi Tambosi
    • 1
  • Vânia Regina Pivello
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de EcologiaUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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