Habitat use of remnant forest habitats by the threatened arboreal marsupial Dromiciops gliroides (Microbiotheria) in a rural landscape of southern Chile

Cecilia Smith-Ramirez, Juan L. Celis-Diez, Erik Von Jenstchyk, Jaime E. Jimenez, Juan J. Armesto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Context. Remnant forest patches in rural landscapes may be important sites for maintaining viable populations of restricted forest species, especially when these remnant habitats maintain some connectivity, for instance through riparian vegetation strips and other forest patches. Aims. We assessed the use of remnant forest habitats in a rural landscape of southern Chile (40°S) by the 'near threatened' arboreal marsupial Dromiciops gliroides (Microbiotheria), in relation to habitat type (riparian strips, forest fragments and continuous forests), width of the riparian forests, and the presence and abundance of the hemiparasite Tristerix corymbosus, whose fruits are readily eaten by D. gliroides. Methods. In two summers, 2004 and 2008, we set up grids of 96 live traps for three consecutive nights at each of 16 sites along two riparian forest strips, four additional sites in remnant, non-riparian forest patches, and four more within continuous pre-Andean forest. We counted hemiparasites on trees in the trapping grid area, and estimated their individual volumes. Key results . In total, 48 individuals of D. gliroides were captured at all sites during the 2 years. We documented a significant positive relationship between the width of riparian vegetation and the number of individuals captured (rs = 0.78, P = 0.02, n = 8) for one riparian strip, but not for the second one. Neither habitat type nor the frequency of hemiparasites related statistically to D. gliroides abundance. Key conclusions. We conclude that in the rural landscape of the Chilean Lake District, narrow riparian forest strips, in a highly inter-connected mosaic of remnant forest patches may be as important as large patches and continuous Andean forests to sustain viable populations of this threatened, strictly arboreal, marsupial. Implications. The present study reports, for the first time, the presence in narrow riparian forests immersed in a pasture-dominated agricultural matrix of this forest-specialist marsupial, which was previously known only from continuous pre-Andean forests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-254
Number of pages6
JournalWildlife Research
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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