Remnants of native forests support carnivore diversity in the vineyard landscapes of central Chile

Camila B. García, Gabriella L. Svensson, Camila Bravo, María I. Undurraga, Javiera Díaz-Forestier, Karina Godoy, ALEXANDER NEAMAN, Olga Barbosa, Sebastián Abades, JUAN LUIS CELIS DIEZ

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Carnivores play an important role in ecosystem functioning as apex predators. However, most carnivore species are threatened or have been extirpated in human-dominated landscapes. The Mediterranean region of central Chile is a biodiversity hotspot, but expansion of agricultural areas such as vineyards is degrading wildlife habitat. We estimated the species richness and composition of carnivore communities in remnant fragments of sclerophyllous forest-shrubland in the vineyard landscapes of central Chile to evaluate the effects of human disturbance at different spatial scales. We tested two hypotheses: (1) vineyard landscapes with higher levels of human disturbance support a lower diversity of native carnivores in fragments of remnant native vegetation compared to landscapes with larger areas of natural habitat, and (2) habitat specialists and generalists respond differentially to human influence at the habitat vs landscape spatial scale. We used camera traps at 12 sites across the study area and evaluated the impact of human disturbance indicators on the richness and detection frequency of carnivore species. We found that human population density negatively affected carnivore richness and was associated with a lower detection frequency of the Vulnerable guiña Leopardus guigna. The presence of domestic dogs also had a negative effect on the detection frequency of the guiña and the two native species of foxes, the culpeo Lycalopex culpaeus and South American grey fox Lycalopex griseus. We conclude that protecting remnants of native forest in vineyard landscapes is crucial for carnivore conservation in central Chile.

Original languageEnglish
JournalORYX
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Agricultural landscapes
  • carnivores
  • Chile
  • domestic dogs
  • guiña
  • Leopardus guigna
  • sclerophyllous forest
  • vineyards

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