Fernanda Michalski, Ph.D.
Organization: Instituto Pró-Carnívoros
Location: Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso, Brazil
Research: Use of Riparian Corridors by Otters in a Highly Fragmented Amazonian Landscape – A Preliminary Assessment
Species/Topic: Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis and Lontra longicaudis)
Abstract: There is increasing awareness of the importance of corridors for mitigating negative impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation. However empirical data on corridor use are still lacking especially for large bodied mammals. This study aims to fill gaps in ecological understanding and provide a framework for conserving riparian corridors in landscapes dominated by anthropogenic perturbations. To achieve these objectives we will monitor riparian corridor use by giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) and neotropical river otter (Lontra longicaudis) in a highly fragmented region of the Brazilian Amazon. And simultaneously assess the potential of otters as umbrella species for regional biodiversity conservation. A total of 15 riparian corridors connecting forest fragments and five along perennial streams coursing through continuous primary forest will be sampled through the use of non-invasive techniques (e.g. direct: sightings, and indirect: scats, tracks, dens and 'camp sites') to determine the otter distribution across the fragmented landscape. Interviews with local landowners will also be used to identify presence of otters along riparian corridors. The proposed project will also be our first step to raise awareness of the conservation of riparian corridors within the local community. The results obtained will generate information on ecological consequences of habitat loss and empirical data on the effectiveness of riparian corridors for otters. These data will support and improve Brazilian conservation policies and will help the management of biodiversity in degraded and fragmented regions in other tropical forests.