Aximoff, I., Carvalho, W.D., Romero, D., Esbérard, C.E.L., Guerrero, J.C. & Rosalino, L.M. (2020) Unravelling the drivers of maned wolf presence patterns along an elevational gradient in the Atlantic Forest, south-eastern Brazil.Mammalian Biology, 100, 187-201. DOI:10.1007/s42991-020-00017-x (IF2019 1,595; Q2 Zoology)
The maned wolf, the largest canid in South America, was originally distributed in areas with open natural vegetation in the Cerrado biome, Chaco and Pampas regions. The dynamics of its distribution are, however, in flux, with populations declining at the southern limit of its distribution, and areas of apparent range expansion in Brazil. Although the maned wolf’s overall distribution is well documented, little is known about its smallest-scale landscape use. Here we used a novel approach, characterising “favourable territories” for maned wolves using presence data and information on daily movement capacity. In this way, we used favourability distribution models to relate local landscape use by maned wolves to environmental drivers in the Serra da Mantiqueira, part of the core of the species distribution. Our results showed that the favourablity of territories for maned wolf activity increases with altitude, and with the proportion of coverage of upper montane vegetation refuges and of open habitats such as agricultural fields. Our results also show that the configuration of the environment with respect to topography is an important driver of the favourability of the landscape for maned wolf activity. Finally, we identified some human-wildlife conflicts in the surroundings of the protected area which could increase with increasing maned wolf populations. In conclusion, our results support the importance of maintaining the integrity of high-altitude open areas in the conservation of maned wolf habitat and provide useful data for maned wolf management at the core of its global current distribution. We highlight that this is the first study to use fuzzy logic tools at the local scale to analyze the favourability of territories for maned wolf activity in a highly favourable region along an elevational gradient.