Isotopic niche of the Neotropical otter, Lontra longicaudis (Carnivora, Mustelidae), in different coastal aquatic systems in southern Brazil

  • Thayara S. CarrascoEmail author
  • Silvina Botta
  • Rodrigo Machado
  • Paulo C. Simões-Lopes
  • Oldemar Carvalho-Junior
  • Paulo H. Ott
  • Elton P. Colares
  • Eduardo R. Secchi
Primary Research Paper


The Neotropical otter, Lontra longicaudis, is an opportunistic species usually found in freshwater habitats; however, it has also been recorded in environments with marine influence (e.g., islands and estuaries). Thus, we hypothesized that the isotopic niche of the Neotropical otter is wider in a coastal island (Santa Catarina Island—SC) and in a river basin composed of a series of lagoons and an estuary (Tramandaí River Basin—RS) than in a wetland (Taim Wetland—RS) due a greater occurrence of the species in the marine environment of the former areas. In order to test this hypothesis, the stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen in otter samples from different regions were analyzed. Long-term isotopic niche of otters was wider in Santa Catarina Island, followed by Taim Wetland, and Lagunar System of Tramandaí. Therefore, we conclude that otters from Santa Catarina Island and Taim Wetland use both freshwater and marine environments as foraging areas. The sampled otters of the Lagunar System of Tramandaí, on the other hand, used predominantly freshwater environments to forage. The differences found among the otters from different regions are probably related to a variety of factors, such as landscape characteristics, sampling and prey availability.


Carbon Diet Habitat use Nitrogen Stable isotopes 



We are thankful to the Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação da Megafauna Marinha—ECOMEGA (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande—FURG) for all the logistical support during the study. We are also grateful to the researchers from Grupo de Estudos de Mamíferos Aquáticos do Rio Grande do Sul—GEMARS, Laboratório de Mamíferos Aquáticos—LAMAQ (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina—UFSC), Projeto Lontra (Instituto Ekko Brasil—IEB), Núcleo de Educação e Monitoramento Ambiental—NEMA, and Centro de Estudos Costeiros, Limnológicos e Marinhos—CECLIMAR (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul—UFRGS) for providing otter and prey samples. ESEC do Taim (Instituto Chico Mendes—ICMBio) also provided logistical support for sampling at the Taim Wetland. Finally, we are grateful to Dr. Leandro Bugoni and Dr. Marcelo Lopes Rheingantz for their critical review of a previous version of this manuscript. T.S.C. received a scholarship from Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—CAPES. E.R.S. is a Research Fellow (PQ 307843/2014-0) of the Conselho Nacional para Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Brazilian Government. This study is a contribution of the Research Group “ECOMEGA/CNPq.”

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thayara S. Carrasco
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Silvina Botta
    • 2
  • Rodrigo Machado
    • 3
  • Paulo C. Simões-Lopes
    • 4
  • Oldemar Carvalho-Junior
    • 5
  • Paulo H. Ott
    • 3
    • 6
  • Elton P. Colares
    • 1
  • Eduardo R. Secchi
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Biologia de Ambientes Aquáticos Continentais, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande - FURGRio GrandeBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação da Megafauna Marinha – ECOMEGA, Instituto de OceanografiaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande - FURGRio GrandeBrazil
  3. 3.Grupo de Estudos de Mamíferos Aquáticos do Rio Grande do Sul – GEMARSTorresBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratório de Mamíferos Aquáticos – LAMAQ, Departamento de Ecologia e ZoologiaUniversidade Federal de Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  5. 5.Instituto Ekko Brasil – IEB, Gerencia de Projetos e PesquisaFlorianópolisBrazil
  6. 6.Laboratório de Biodiversidade e ConservaçãoUniversidade Estadual do Rio Grande do Sul – UERGSOsórioBrazil

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