, Volume 652, Issue 1, pp 389–394 | Cite as

Defining conservation status using limited information: the case of Patagonian otters Lontra provocax in Argentina

  • Marcelo H. CassiniEmail author
  • Laura Fasola
  • Claudio Chehébar
  • David W. Macdonald
Short research note


The Southern river otter or huillín Lontra provocax has been classified as ‘endangered’, with the loss of riparian forest identified as the main threat to its survival. We used new information on distribution from Argentina to define their status. There are no data on the huillin’s population structure and dynamics, and no estimate of its abundance or population trends at a relevant scale. Our survey teams covered 435 locations in lakes, rivers and coastal sites using a standard and repeatable methodology of 600 m survey transects as adopted for otter surveys across Europe. We found that its present geographic range in Argentina is slightly larger than is characteristic of a species at risk of extinction at the national level, although its contemporary distribution is still radically contracted in comparison to its historical distribution.


Aquatic mammals Geographical distribution Forage specialization Habitat requirements 



We are deeply grateful to Gerardo Porro, Marcelo Bello and Leonardo R. Leggieri for their collaboration with the fieldwork. GIS analysis was supervised by Leonardo Di Franco and PRODITEL-UNLu provided GIS software. The study was financed by the Darwin Initiative (United Kingdom) and the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Técnica (Argentina, PICT 14173). MHC is a researcher in the CONICET. We are grateful to Hans Kruuk and Lauren Harrington for helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo H. Cassini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura Fasola
    • 2
  • Claudio Chehébar
    • 3
  • David W. Macdonald
    • 2
  1. 1.Grupo de Estudios en Ecología de Mamíferos (DCB, CONICET, PROFAUNA)Universidad Nacional de LujánLujánArgentina
  2. 2.Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Zoology DepartmentUniversity of OxfordTubneyUK
  3. 3.Delegación Regional Patagonia, Administración de Parques NacionalesRío NegroArgentina

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