Effects of landscape configuration on the occurrence and abundance of an arboreal marsupial from the Valdivian rainforest

Victoria P. Fernández, Gloria B. Rodríguez-Gómez, Dimas A. Molina-Marín, Gabriel J. Castaño-Villa, Francisco E. Fontúrbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Habitat fragmentation and degradation processes affect biodiversity by reducing habitat quantity and quality, with differential effects on the resident species. However, their consequences are not always noticeable as some ecological processes affected involve idiosyncratic responses among different animal groups. The Valdivian temperate rainforests of southern Chile are experiencing a rapid fragmentation and degradation process despite being a biodiversity hotspot. Deforestation is one of the main threats to these forests. There inhabits the arboreal marsupial Dromiciops gliroides, an iconic species from the Valdivian rainforest, it is the only extant representative of the ancient Microbiotheria order, and it is currently threatened by habitat loss. Here we tested the effects of habitat configuration on D. gliroides occurrence and abundance along 12 landscapes of southern Chile with different disturbance levels. Methods: We estimated D. gliroides occurrence and abundance using camera traps and related those metrics with landscape configuration indices obtained from FRAGSTATS (i.e., forest %, connectivity, patch number, contiguity, and distance to the nearest patch) using Bayesian linear mixed models. Results: We found that D. gliroides occurrence was not influenced by landscape configuration, while its abundance was positively influenced by forest contiguity. Conclusions: Although this arboreal marsupial is present in disturbed forests, its restricted movement capabilities and high dependency on the forest three-dimensional structure may affect its long-term persistence. We urge to rethink native forest conservation and management policies to improve habitat connectivity with possible positive consequences for native fauna.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalRevista Chilena de Historia Natural
Volume95
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Abundance
  • Dromiciops gliroides
  • Habitat degradation
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Landscape
  • Occurrence

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