Mammals in the Cerrado of the Cerrado-Pantanal corridor
Habitat fragmentation is currently one of the greatest threats to biological diversity causing both a reduction in natural environments and isolation of remnant habitats. In fragmented landscapes, species may be distributed as metapopulations i.e. populations connected by gene flow, and the survival of metapopulations is related to the ability to move between patches of habitat that may become unfeasible due to distance, lack of corridors or other habitat types where the species can cross. Biological corridors are strips of vegetation, where organisms can travel surrounded by a different (lower quality) habitat type (matrix) which is difficult to cross. Corridors connect two or more areas of native vegetation and many studies have demonstrated their effectiveness as areas of conservation, suggesting that they act by increasing or maintaining the genetic viability of native populations allowing a flow of individuals between populations that were previously connected. The magnitude and distribution of genetic variability within and between populations are related to the extent of gene flow.
Small mammals are good subjects to study the genetic structure of populations and to measure whether there is gene flow between populations, because they have low dispersal ability and some species are restricted to certain types of habitat. Moreover, they have relatively short generation times, which mean that the effects of fragmentation are more evident in a short time.
Project’s overall objective:
Assess patterns of genetic variability in small mammals distributed in the Cerrado of the Cerrado-Pantanal corridor, assessing whether there is gene flow between these populations. More specifically, it seeks to:
- Assess the magnitude of genetic variability within populations;
- Analyze the distribution of variability and genetic divergence among populations and along the corridor;
- Estimate gene flow between local populations and assess whether the populations are connected by it.
Flávio Henrique Guimarães Rodrigues
Rosane Garcia Collevatti – Catholic University of Brasilia