Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 2421–2439 | Cite as

Long-term persistence of midsized to large-bodied mammals in Amazonian landscapes under varying contexts of forest cover

  • Ricardo SampaioEmail author
  • Albertina P. Lima
  • William E. Magnusson
  • Carlos A. Peres
Original Paper


Both forest fragmentation and overhunting have profound effects on the structure of large-vertebrate assemblages in neotropical forests. However, the long-term value of habitat fragments for forest mammals remains poorly understood and few regional scale studies have replicated sampling across spatially independent landscapes. Here, we assess the species occupancy and abundance of midsized to large-bodied mammals within three neighbouring Amazonian forest landscapes varying widely in extent of forest cover. One of these consisted of forest fragments surrounded by semi-natural scrub savannahs that had been occupied by paleoindian populations for at least 7,000 years, whereas forest cover in the other two landscapes was either variegated or continuous. Data on species occurrence and abundance from diurnal and nocturnal line-transect surveys and local interviews in each landscape were used to examine the effects of forest cover and hunting pressure on mammal persistence within forest patches. The extent of forest cover was a key determinant of species persistence across the three landscapes, but populations of large-bodied species were either reduced or driven to local extinction by hunting even in the most forested and least fragmented landscape. Many game and non-game species persisted in forest isolates, even though, individually, these were likely too small to support viable populations. This study indicates that even small, long-term forest fragments may retain significant conservation value if they can be managed within the context of enhanced connectivity across wider fragmented landscapes.


Amazonian wildlife Forest fragmentation Hunting Local extinction Mammals Forest disturbance 



We are grateful for the field assistance of Ediwaldo Vasconcelos, Donildo, Juvenal and Herrison, and to the family of Juci and Laudeco Sardinha and the villagers of Alter-do-Chão who made our field work much more pleasant. We thank Gonçalo Ferraz and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on the manuscript, Vitor Landeiro for assistance with the statistical analyses, and Juliana Schietti and Ralph Trancoso for their GIS assistance. The study was funded by grants from the Brazilian Research Council (CNPq) to APL and WEM, and a scholarship from the IEB/Moore Foundation Beca Program (B/2006/01/BMP/11) and CNPq to RS.


  1. Albernaz ALKM (2001) Zoneamento da região de Alter do Chão, Pará: um exercício de planejamento para uma Unidade de Conservação de uso indireto. Doctoral Thesis, INPA/UFAMGoogle Scholar
  2. Almeida-Neto M, Guimarães PR Jr, Lewinsohn TM (2007) On nestedness analysis: rethinking matrix temperature and anti-nestedness. Oikos 116:716–722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Altrichter M, Boaglio GI (2004) Distribution and relative abundance of peccaries in the Argentine Chaco: associations with human factors. Biol Conserv 116:217–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andrén H (1994) Effects of habitat fragmentation on birds and mammals in landscapes with different proportions of suitable habitat: a review. Oikos 71:355–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Atmar W, Patterson BD (1993) The nestedness temperature calculator: a visual basic program, including 294 presence–absence matrices. AICS Research Inc, University ParkGoogle Scholar
  6. Azevedo-Ramos C, Amaral BD, Nepstad DC et al (2006) Integrating ecosystem management, protected areas, and mammal conservation in the Brazilian Amazon. Ecol Soc 11:17Google Scholar
  7. Bates HW (1892) A naturalist on the river Amazon. Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Baum KA, Haynes KJ, Dillemuth FP et al (2004) The matrix enhances the effectiveness of corridors and stepping stones. Ecology 85:2671–2676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bennett EL (2002) Is there a link between wild meat and food Security? Conserv Biol 16:590–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bodmer RE (1995) Managing Amazonian wildlife: biological correlates of game choice by detribalized hunters. Ecol Appl 5:872–877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bodmer RE, Eisenberg FF, Redford KH (1997) Hunting and the likelihood of extinction of Amazonian mammals. Conserv Biol 11:460–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Broadbent EN, Asner GP, Keller M et al (2008) Forest fragmentation and edge effects from deforestation and selective logging in the Brazilian Amazon. Biol Conserv 141:1745–1757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown JH (1971) Mammals on mountain tops: nonequilibrium insular biogeography. Am Nat 105:467–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chetkiewicz CB, St. Clair CC, Boyce MS (2006) Corridors for conservation: integrating pattern and process. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 37:317–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chiarello AG (2000) Density and population size of mammals in remnants of Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Conserv Biol 14:1649–1657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Colwell RK (2005) EstimateS: statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples. Version 7.5.
  17. Cowlishaw G (1999) Predictiong the pattern decline of African primate diversity: an extinction debt from historical deforestation. Conserv Biol 13:1183–1193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cullen-Junior L, Bodmer RE, Pádua CV (2000) Effects of hunting in habitat fragments of the Atlantic forests, Brazil. Biol Conserv 95:49–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dale VH, Pearson SM, Offerman HL et al (1994) Relating patterns of land-use change to faunal biodiversity in the central Amazon. Conserv Biol 8:1027–1036CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Debinski DM (2006) Forest fragmentation and matrix effects: the matrix does matter. J Biogeogr 33:1791–1792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Debinski DM, Holt RD (2000) A survey and overview of habitat fragmentation experiments. Conserv Biol 14:342–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eisenberg JF, Redford KH (1999) Mammals of the Neotropics. The Central Neotropics, vol 3. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  23. Estrada A, Coates-Estrada R, Meritt D Jr (1994) Non flying mammals and landscape changes in the tropical rain forest region of Los Tuxtlas, Mexico. Ecography 17:229–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fa JE, Brown D (2009) Impacts of hunting on mammals in African tropical moist forests: a review and synthesis. Mammal Rev 39:231–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fahrig L (2003) Effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 34:487–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fearnside PF (2007) Brazil’s Cuiabá-Santarém (BR-163) highway: the environmental cost of paving a soybean corridor through the Amazon. Environ Manage 39:601–614CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Feeley KJ, Terborgh JW (2008) Direct versus indirect effects of habitat reduction on the loss of avian species from tropical forest fragments. Anim Conserv 11:353–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ferrari SF, Iwanaga S, Ravetta AL (2003) Dynamics of primate communities along the Santarém-Cuiabá highway in south-central Brazilian Amazonia. In: Marsh LK et al (eds) Primates in fragments. Ecology and conservation. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Ferraz G, Nichols JD, Hines JE et al (2007) Effects of patch area and isolation on Amazon birds. Science 315:238–240CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Fischer J, Lindenmayer DB (2007) Landscape modification and habitat fragmentation: a synthesis. Global Ecol Biogeogr 16:265–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Galetti M, Giacomini HC, Bueno RS et al (2009) Priority areas for the conservation of Atlantic forest large mammals. Biol Conserv 143:1–12Google Scholar
  32. Giraudoux P (2009) pgirmess: data analysis in ecology. R package version 1.3.8.
  33. Goslee SC, Urban DL (2007) The ecodist package for dissimilarity-based analysis of ecological data. J Stat Softw 22:1–19Google Scholar
  34. Hanski I, Ovaskainen O (2000) The metapopulation capacity of a fragmented landscape. Nature 404:755–758CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Henle K, Davies KF, Kleyer M et al (2004) Predictors of species sensitivity to fragmentation. Biodivers Conserv 13:207–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Laurance WF (1991) Ecological extinction Australian correlates of proneness in Tropical Rain Forest mammals. Conserv Biol 5:79–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Laurance WF (2008) Theory meets reality: how habitat fragmentation research has transcended island biogeographic theory. Biol Conserv 141:1731–1744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Laurance WF, Lovejoy TE, Vasconcelos HL et al (2002a) Ecosystem decay of Amazonian forest fragments: a 22-year investigation. Conserv Biol 16:605–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Laurance WF, Albernaz AKM, Schroth G et al (2002b) Predictors of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. J Biogeogr 29:737–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Laurance WF, Laurance SG, Hilbert DW (2008) Long-term dynamics of a fragmented rainforest mammal assemblage. Conserv Biol 22:1154–1164CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Lees AC, Peres CA (2009) Gap-crossing movements predict species occupancy in Amazonian forest fragments. Oikos 118:280–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lopes MA, Ferrari SF (2000) Effects of human colonization on the abundance and diversity of mammals in Eastern Brazilian Amazonia. Conserv Biol 14:1658–1665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Martins MM (2005) Density of primates in four semi-deciduous forest fragments of São Paulo, Brazil. Biodivers Conserv 14:2321–2329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Metzger JP, Décamps H (1997) The structural connectivity threshold: an hypothesis in conservation biology at the landscape scale. Acta Oecol 18:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Michalski F, Peres CA (2005) Anthropogenic determinants of primate and carnivore local extinctions in a fragmented forest landscape of southern Amazonia. Biol Conserv 124:383–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Michalski F, Peres CA (2007) Disturbance-mediated mammal persistence and abundance-area relationships in Amazonian forest fragments. Conserv Biol 21:1626–1640PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Miranda IS (1993) Estrutura do estrato arbóreo do cerrado Amazônico em Alter-do-Chão, Pará. Rev Brasil Bot 16:143–150Google Scholar
  48. Patterson B, Ceballos G, Sechrest W et al (2003) Digital distribution maps of the mammals of the western hemisphere. Version 1.0. NatureServe, ArlingtonGoogle Scholar
  49. Peres CA (1999) General guidelines for standardizing line-transect surveys of Tropical Forest Primates. Neotrop Primates 7:11–16Google Scholar
  50. Peres CA (2000) Effects of subsistence hunting on vertebrate community structure in Amazonian forests. Conserv Biol 14:240–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Peres CA (2001) Synergistic effects of subsistence hunting and habitat fragmentation on Amazonian Forest Vertebrates. Conserv Biol 15:1490–1505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Peres CA, Palacios E (2007) Basin-wide effects of game harvest on vertebrate population densities in Amazonian forests: implications for animal-mediated seed dispersal. Biotropica 29:304–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Peres CA, Gardner TA, Barlow J et al (2010). Biodiversity conservation in human-modified Amazonian forest landscapes. Biol Conserv. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.01.021
  54. R Development Core Team (2008) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. ISBN 3-900051-07-0.
  55. Ravetta AL, Ferrari SF (2009) Geographic distribution and population characteristics of the endangered white-fronted spider monkey (Ateles marginatus) on the lower Tapajós River in central Brazilian Amazonia. Primates 50:261–268CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Robinson JG, Redford KH (1991) Sustainable harvest of neotropical forest mammals. In: Robinson JG, Redford KH (eds) Neotropical wildlife use and conservation. Chicago University Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  57. Roosevelt AC, Housley RA, da Silveira MI et al (1991) Eighth millennium pottery from a prehistoric shell midden in the Brazilian Amazon. Science 254:1621–1624CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Roosevelt AC, Lima da Costa M, Machado CL et al (1996) Paleo-Indian cave dwellers in the Amazon: the peopling of the Americas. Science 272:373–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sanaiotti TM, Martinelli LA, Victoria RL et al (2002) Past vegetation changes in Amazon savannas determined using carbon isotopes of soil organic matter. Biotropica 34:2–16Google Scholar
  60. Serena M (1984) Distribution and habitats of parthenogenetic and sexual Cnemidophorus lemniscatus (Sauria: Teiidae) in Surinam. Copeia 3:713–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Soares-Filho BS, Nepstad DC, Curran LM et al (2006) Modeling conservation in the Amazon basin. Nature 440:520–523CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Stone AI, Lima EM, Aguiar GFS et al (2009) Non-volant mammalian diversity in fragments in extreme eastern Amazonia. Biodivers Conserv 18:1685–1694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Turner IM, Corlett RT (1996) The conservation value of small, isolated fragments of lowland tropical rain forest. Trends Ecol Evol 11:330–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Venables WN, Ripley BD (2002) Modern applied statistics with S, 4th edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  65. Watling JI, Donnelly MA (2006) Fragments as islands: a synthesis of faunal responses to habitat patchiness. Conserv Biol 20:1016–1025CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Watson DM (2003) The ‘standardized search’: an improved way to conduct bird surveys. Austral Ecol 28:515–524CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Sampaio
    • 1
    Email author
  • Albertina P. Lima
    • 1
  • William E. Magnusson
    • 1
  • Carlos A. Peres
    • 2
  1. 1.Coordenação de Pesquisas em EcologiaInstituto Nacional de Pesquisas da AmazôniaManausBrazil
  2. 2.School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

Personalised recommendations