Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 13, pp 3155–3170 | Cite as

Effects of abandoned Eucalyptus plantations on lizard communities in the Brazilian Cerrado

  • Alison M. Gainsbury
  • Guarino R. Colli
Original Paper


The rapid expansion of human altered landscapes affects biodiversity on every continent. A fundamental goal of conservation biologists is to understand why certain species are at risk of extinction while others are able to persist in human altered landscapes. Afforestation, the conversion of unforested lands to planted forest, is rapidly altering many natural landscapes worldwide. In the Cerrado (Brazilian savanna), a global biodiversity hotspot, a shortage of government incentives has the landscape riddled with abandoned plantation forests that are not subject to active restoration projects. Studies investigating the impacts of abandoned plantations on biodiversity are strikingly limited. We examine the effects of abandoned Eucalyptus plantations on the structure of Cerrado lizard communities. We assessed changes in lizard capture, richness and equitability along cerrado sensu strictoEucalyptus transects. Our results indicate abandoned Eucalyptus plantations have subsets of Cerrado species persisting with a great loss of endemic species. The cerrado sensu strictoEucalyptus linear transect analysis demonstrated distance from native habitat is positively correlated with loss of biodiversity. We performed correspondence analyses to summarize the variation in species captures across different sites, habitats and pitfall array positions. These analyses depicted strong species associations between habitats and their pitfall array positions. This study is the first to show the negative impacts of abandoned Eucalyptus plantations on Cerrado lizard communities, serving as a cautionary tale of Cerrado biodiversity non-resilience in abandoned Eucalyptus plantations. Mitigation requires that abandoned Eucalyptus plantations are made more suitable to Cerrado lizards by implementing targeted habitat heterogeneity restoration.


Afforestation Biodiversity Conservation Correspondence analyses Endemic species Savanna 



We thank Eric Pianka for valuable comments that improved earlier versions of this manuscript. We are grateful to the members of the Coleção Herpetológica da UnB (CHUNB) for their assistance in the field. We are especially thankful to Almir de Paula and Ana Carolina Ramalho. We also thank Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade for issuing the permit to collect specimens (17774-3). AMG thanks the Integrative Biology Graduate Program in the form of graduate TA-ships from the School of Biological Science at UT Austin. GRC thanks CAPES, CNPq and FAPDF for financial support. We also thank the anonymous reviewers who significantly improved the quality of the manuscript with pertinent suggestions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Integrative BiologyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil

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