Conservation Genomics of the Giant Otter

Conservation Genomics of the Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis): connectivity evaluation between remaining population in the Amazon, Cerrado and Pantanal biomes, with emphasis on National Action Plan activities.

Despite the large geographical distribution, the giant otter is considered extinct in great part of its historical range, nowadays, being restricted to small and fragmented subpopulations marked with evident genetic differentiation (Pickles et al. 2011, 2012). The species classification is “threatened with extinction”, presenting tendencies of population decline (Groenendijk et al. 2015, MMA, 2014). The largest estimated populations are in the Amazon and Pantanal. The historical and current patterns of the connectivity between these two biomes still lack further understanding. This is aggravated due to the lack of knowledge about giant otters in the Cerrado biome, which can represent an important bridge between the remaining populations.

The present research aims to investigate the occurrence of giant otters in this biome, as well as to evaluate the diversity, connectivity and differentiation among the remaining populations in the three biomes through genomic analyses. The issues addressed in this study attend the different actions proposed by Giant Otter National Action Plan (NAP) and will provide important data for future strategy design on the conservation of this species and their habitats.

The project began in July 2017, with the choice of areas and partnership establishments for fieldwork accomplishments. Field campaigns strive to gather biological material (tissue and feces) for genomic analyses. The chosen areas are located in the Cerrado and in transitional zones between this biome and the Pantanal and Amazon.

Operational area


Responsible team

Project Coordinator and Technical Manager

Dr. Eduardo Eizirik



Vera de Ferran

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