Salicaceae afforestations: advantage or disadvantage for Neotropical otter in its southernmost distribution?
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Instituto de Investigación e Ingeniería Ambiental (IIIA) CONICET-UNSAM
Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires
Online publication date: 2019-12-30
Publication date: 2019-12-30
Corresponding author
Pamela Krug   

Instituto de Investigación e Ingeniería Ambiental (IIIA) CONICET-UNSAM
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2019;30(2):166–171
Anthropogenic environmental changes may affect habitat suitability for wildlife. Currently, the commercial plantation of non-native trees is one of the most important types of land-use worldwide. The Lower Paraná River Delta in Argentina is a macromosaic of wetlands of high biodiversity value, which has been modified by the afforestation with Salicaceae species. In this context, the Neotropical otter, Lontra longicaudis (classified as Near Threatened at world level and as Endangered in Argentina), faces new challenges related to the colonization of these afforestation landscapes. On this basis, we investigated whether these human-made habitats could be a suitable habitat for the Neotropical otter. We analyzed habitat use and selection by this species at two scales of perception (micro- and macrohabitat) and in two contrasting seasons (winter and summer). Our results show that drainage channels within the afforestation landscape provide suitable conditions for this species during winter. The most important variables at macrohabitat level (dissolved oxygen, pH, and electric conductivity) and seasonally (temperature and pH) appeared to be related to prey availability in the watercourse stretches. At the microhabitat level, the primary factor for distinguishing between used and available sites was soil hardness, possibly related to favorable edaphic conditions for digging burrows. Therefore, the survival of this species in the area will depend on the afforestation management, mainly on those actions that decrease dissolved oxygen levels of waters and increase soil hardness of banks. Under the current wetland loss scenario in the region, afforestation systems may contribute to the conservation of this species.
The authors would like to thank Dr. Gabriela Mataloni, Dr. Irina Izaguirre and Laboratorios Tauro S.A. for his help with the water analysis. MsC. Priscilla Minotti and BSc. Florencia Brancolini are thanked for providing the authors the data of the ictiofauna of the study area. We thank to BSc. Diego Aquino for help with map edition and Luis Franco Tadic for your beautiful drawing of Neotropical otter (Lontra longicaudis).
Financial support was provided by CONICET (PIP 571-15) and ANPCyT (FONCyT PICT-2982). Papel Prensa S.A. and BEng. Juan Manuel García Conde are thanked for their assistance and logistical support during the fieldwork.