Influence of the composition and structure of modified landscapes on the abundance of two marsupials during the dry season in Chiapas, Mexico

Bárbara Cruz-Salazar, Lorena Ruiz-Montoya, Darío Navarrete-Gutiérrez, Luis-Bernardo Vázquez

Resumen


Changes in the landscape due to habitat loss and fragmentation interact with ecological processes of natural populations and define their local abundance.  We evaluated the relationship between the abundance of two common marsupials, Didelphis marsupialis (common opossum) and Didelphis virginiana (Virginia opossum), and landscape features under different disturbance levels in two areas of the State of Chiapas: The Highlands and the Central Lowlands.   The objective was to identify the effects of changes in landscape on the populations of the marsupials studied.  Based on the biological characteristics of D. marsupialis and D. virginiana, we expected a higher abundance of opossums in areas with moderate disturbance.  At the same time, we aimed to establish the relationship between landscape composition and the abundance of these two species.  We placed 48 Tomahawk traps in sites with three levels of landscape disturbance.  Within each disturbance level, landscape structure and composition were determined.  The abundance of each species was estimated in terms of the number of specimens captured.  A relative abundance index was estimated from the number of specimens captured per trap-night .  The influence of disturbance levels, landscape structure, and landscape composition on the abundance of each species was examined by means of multiple regression and generalized lineal models.  The mean abundance of Didelphis spp. was higher in the Central Lowlands (5.56 specimens, SD = 4.82).  Didelphis marsupialis was captured only in low-disturbance sites, with a mean of 0.56 specimens (SD = 1.04; Figure 2a), while D. virginiana was captured in the three disturbance levels with a mean of 3.56 specimens (SD = 3.88; Figure 2b).  The presence of D. marsupialis was influenced by the number of patches (NP; p = 0.003), while the presence of D. virginiana was not associated with the landscape index (Table 2).Our findings suggest that the abundance of D. marsupialis and D. virginiana was not influenced by the disturbance level.  However, the abundance of D. marsupialis was related to the number of patches and conserved areas; D. virginiana was unaffected by the landscape attributes evaluated, i. e. composition and configuration, indicating that the Virginia opossum can establish relatively abundant populations in highly disturbed landscapes.  This study contributes to the understanding of the effects of landscape changes due to human activities on common species in Mexico.


Palabras clave


common species; Didelphis; habitat loss; landscape; landscape fragmentation; mammals

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Referencias


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THERYA es publicada por la Asociación Mexicana de Mastozoología A. C.  Se distribuye bajo una Licencia de Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivar 4.0 Internacional.

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