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Contrasting effects of fire on populations of two small rodent species in fragments of Atlantic Forest in Brazil

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2004

Marcos de Souza Lima Figueiredo
Affiliation:
Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro, CxP 68020, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 21941-590, Brazil Present address: Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG. 31270-901, Brazil.
Fernando Antonio dos Santos Fernandez
Affiliation:
Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro, CxP 68020, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 21941-590, Brazil

Abstract

Habitat fragmentation causes a sharp increase in the forested area affected by edge effects (Murcia 1995). Compared with the core of the forest, edges present higher litterfall rates, air and soil humidity reduction, higher temperature and increased wind incidence (Bierregaard et al. 1992, Didham & Lawton 1999, Laurance et al. 1998, Matlack 1993). These features of edges may increase the probability of fire occurrence, especially if the surrounding vegetation is composed of grasses (D'Antonio & Vitousek 1992, Freifelder et al. 1998). After a fire, the damaged edge will grow substantial amounts of herbaceous vegetation, extending the inflammable area into the forest, and thereby creating a positive feedback system of fire susceptibility and intensity (Cochrane & Schulze 1999, Cochrane et al. 1999). Fires may affect the structure and composition of the vegetation (Cochrane & Schulze 1999, Didham & Lawton 1999, Sanaiotti & Magnusson 1995), favouring, in the long-term, the dominance of the community by species characteristic of disturbed habitats and making the habitat unsuitable to primary forest species (Malcolm 1994, Possingham et al. 1994). Unfortunately, there are few studies on the effects of fires on neotropical small-mammal populations (Borchert & Hansen 1983, Ojeda 1989, Vieira & Marinho-Filho 1998). The objective of this study was to analyse the influence of a fire on populations of two rodent species, Akodon cursor (Winge) and Oecomys concolor (Wagner) in two fragments of Atlantic Forest in Brazil.

Type
Brief Report
Copyright
2004 Cambridge University Press

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