a1 Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia, Conservação e Manejo da Vida Silvestre, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, 31270-910, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil. Núcleo de Pesquisas Ecológicas do Pantanal (NEPA), Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, 78060-900, Cuiabá, MT, Brazil.
a2 Departamento de Zoologia, IB, Universidade de Brasília, 70910-900, Brasília, DF, Brazil.
The Pantanal of Brazil, one of the largest wetlands in the world, is suffering severe threats, such as forest and grassland clearance on the surrounding plateau, conversion of forests and savannas for cattle ranching and effects of large development projects. We used richness, abundance and composition of bird species in four forest types to propose conservation priorities for the northern Pantanal. Birds from 11 sites (a total of 41 points) were sampled through point counts and mist-netting. In total 215 species were recorded in the forests. Two evergreen forest types (cambarazal and landi) had higher estimates of bird richness and abundance than two dry forest types (carvoeiro and cordilheira). The evergreen forests also had more species exclusive to them and were more similar to each other than the dry forests. Selection of forests to be conserved in the northern Pantanal should give priority to evergreen forests and secondarily to dry forests. Cambarazal should be the first forests to be conserved. If the Pantanal inundation cycle is altered by the construction of hydroelectric dams or the Paraguay-Paraná waterway, cambarazal and landi may no longer become flooded, decreasing local species richness. Before our recommendations are considered for conservation and management decisions, more studies on other groups of organisms should also be taken into consideration, and similar studies should be conducted in other regions of the Pantanal. Conservation of Pantanal forest birds depends on a deeper understanding of their use of several habitats, stronger protection of the forests with higher diversity, and public policies that guarantee the long term maintenance of natural flooding cycles.
(Received March 20 2010)
(Accepted April 10 2011)
(Online publication September 26 2011)