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Use of a fragmented landscape by three species of opossum in south-eastern Brazil

  • Paula Koeler Lira (a1), Fernando Antonio dos Santos Fernandez (a1), Henrique Santiago Alberto Carlos (a1) (a2) and Patrícia de Lima Curzio (a1)

Abstract

Spatial patterns presented by the opossums Caluromys philander, Philander frenata and Micoureus demerarae were studied, through radio-tracking, in a landscape composed of eight small (1.3–13.3 ha) forest fragments surrounded by a matrix of open vegetation in south-eastern Brazil. Sixteen individuals were fitted with radio-collar transmitters and monitored for 2–8 mo. Fixes were obtained by the ‘homing-in on the animal’ technique. Numbers of locations of each individual varied from 6 to 117. Home ranges sizes ranged from 2.5–7.0 ha for C. philander, 0.6–7.4 ha for P. frenata and 0.8–1.7 ha for M. demerarae. Fragments, both edges and interiors, were used more often than the matrix; they are the primary habitat for these marsupials in the landscape. The matrix was used for foraging by P. frenata and C. philander, and traversed in five movements between fragments by P. frenata. Ability to use fragment edges and the matrix is important in explaining how these marsupials are able to persist in the landscape.

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Corresponding author. Email: rodentia@biologia.ufrj.br

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