Record Details

Medellin, R. A.;Equihua, M.
Mammal species richness and habitat use in rainforest and abandoned agricultural fields in Chiapas, Mexico
Journal of Applied Ecology
Journal Article
tropical rainforest disturbance diversity traditional agriculture forest populations diversity Tapir Bibliography
1. We evaluated the potential of small, isolated cornfields embedded in a large forest matrix as an appropriate compromise between conservation and sustainable development. 2. We examined the relationship between habitat structure and diversity with overall mammal species richness and abundance of six common small mammals in four 6-year-old abandoned cornfields (oldfields) and four continuous rainforest sites in the most speciose region in Mexico, the Selva Lacandona, Chiapas. 3. Species richness did not differ between forests and oldfields, indicating that forest-dependent mammals penetrate oldfields of size 0.9-2.9 ha, presumably because forest cover and resources are nearby. Even species which strongly selected forest habitat, such as H. desmarestianus and D. marsupialis, were present in oldfields, and only the latter showed a significant decline in the number of captures as a function of distance from forest edge. 4. The Lacandon Indian use of the land for agriculture in the form of small (> 3 ha) agricultural plots embedded in a large forest matrix increases spatial heterogeneity and promotes mammal diversity. 5. Those small plots tin agricultural production terms) are intermediate in size when the whole continuum of the local natural and anthropogenic disturbance sizes are considered; more common are the extensive clearings for agriculture or cattle ranching, whereas the most common forest disturbance is treefall gaps, at least 20 times smaller than oldfields. 6. This form of land use should be considered as an important, appropriate productive element when decisions are made about managing reserves and pursuing sustainable development.
Zh452 Times Cited:14 Cited References Count:53