Habitat selection by mammals in an isolated fragment of Brazilian Atlantic forest
Habitat loss, edge effects and the introduction of exotic species are interrelated impacts associated with the anthropogenic modification of landscapes, and represent the principal threats to biodiversity worldwide. These processes affect the composition of species assemblages and provoke varying responses in different species. We used camera traps to evaluate the frequency of occurrence and use of habitat by mammals in response to different abiotic (distance from the forest edge and watercourses) and biotic (frequency of domestic dogs) factors within an isolated fragment of Atlantic forest, in northeastern Brazil. We recorded the occurrence of 15 mammal species. Dasyprocta iacki, Cuniculus paca and Sylvilagus brasiliensis were the most frequent species, while the felines Leopardus pardalis and Herpailurus yagouaroundi were the least frequent mammals. L. pardalis, Mazama gouazoubira, Procyon cancrivorus and Callithrix jacchus occurred near the edge of the forest, but avoided sites with high frequency of domestic dogs. The proximity to water was an important predictor for S. brasiliensis, Tamandua tetradactyla, Dasypus novemcinctus and Euphractus sexcinctus, with armadillos tending to avoid edge environments. Cuniculus paca was recorded in sites farther away from water bodies and closer to the edge of the forest. Herpailurus yagouaroundi presented relationships with sites far from the edge and with high frequency of domestic dogs. Didelphis albiventris was associated with intermediate distances of the forest edge and mean frequencies of domestic dogs. In general, the mammals recorded at the study site were generalist species, able to adapt to different types of vegetation and impacts.