Effects of fragmentation of araucarian vine forest on small mammal communities
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Habitat loss and fragmentation are major threats to the survival of forest-dependent fauna. We examined the abundance of small mammal species in forests, corridors, remnants of araucarian vine forest, and Araucaria cunninghamii plantations and pastures. None of the forest mammal species persisted following conversion of forest to pasture. Plantations supported lowered abundances of a subset of forest species that were mainly habitat generalists with respect to their occurrence in different floristic types of undisturbed native forest. Within plantations, an increased subcanopy cover was associated with a more forest-like small mammal assemblage. Species' responses to habitat fragmentation varied. The floristic habitat generalists were largely tolerant of habitat fragmentation, their abundance being similar in forests, corridors, and remnants, and were capable of persisting in remnants a few hectares in area. Floristic habitat specialists were vulnerable to habitat fragmentation and thus were abundant in continuous forest, were less abundant in corridors, and were generally absent from remnants. Species that avoid the corridor matrix and are therefore constrained to the corridor may be disadvantaged by the linearity of the habitat, consistent with the predictions of central-place foraging theory. Although small remnants and corridors provide habitat for some species, those that are more specialized in their use of undisturbed habitat types require the retention or reestablishment of large intact areas.
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HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY