Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 85, Issue 3, pp 383–395 | Cite as

Effects of management options on mammal richness in a Mediterranean agro-silvo-pastoral system

  • Paula GonçalvesEmail author
  • Sandra Alcobia
  • Luciana Simões
  • Margarida Santos-Reis


Non-flying mammal richness and distribution were studied in a landscape matrix consisting of a highly managed agro-silvo-pastoral system dominated by a cork oak woodland (montado) to test the predictions of the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis (IDH). Sampling consisted on detection of mammalian signs of presence, along with the use of scent stations and small mammal live-trapping. Results were analyzed using generalized linear models, considering land uses, landscape metrics and grazing intensity and gave support to the predictions of the IDH. Pure forestry and intensive agricultural uses showed lower species richness than the silvopastoral system, whilst landscape heterogeneity and riparian corridors were shown to be most beneficial to mammal species richness, with small mammals being directly and negatively affected by grazing intensity. The increasing use of the montado for raising cattle has led to landscape homogenization by means of grazing and shrub clearance for pasture cultivation and this, combined with incremented stocking rates, constrains species richness. In this landscape context, watercourses assume a relevant role as patches of suitable habitat providing shelter, food, movement corridors and dispersion routes for mammals. Recent options of fencing forest patches with good forest natural regeneration or with a high diversity/density of Mediterranean maquis, and restoring degraded watercourses, both to improve landscape heterogeneity, appear to positively affect the mammal community. This is a current challenge in terms of monitoring and research.


Species richness Montado ecosystem Landscape heterogeneity Grazing effects Habitat complementation Riparian habitats 



This study was performed under the frame of a Business and Biodiversity protocol established between Companhia das Lezírias. S.A. ( and the ‘Instituto de Conservação da Natureza e Biodiversidade’ (ICNB). We thank the Administration Board of CL for the financial aid, Eng Rui Alves (Coordinator of the Forestry and Natural Resources Department) for promoting biodiversity studies and providing management data and logistical support, and the technical staff and the foresters for the invaluable help during field work.

We further acknowledge Sasha Vasconcelos, Filipa Guilherme and Katarzyna Rachwal for participating in the field work. S. Vasconcelos was also of invaluable help in the English revision. Special thanks are due to an anonymous referee for the comments that greatly improved this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Gonçalves
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sandra Alcobia
    • 1
  • Luciana Simões
    • 1
  • Margarida Santos-Reis
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal

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