Major shifts in amazon wildlife populations from recent climatic intensification


Bodmer R, Mayor P, Antunez M, Chota K, Fang T, Puertas P, Pittet M, Kirkland M, Walkey M, Rios C, et al. Major shifts in amazon wildlife populations from recent climatic intensification. Conservation Biology [Internet]. 2017.


In the western Amazon basin, recent intensification of river level cycles has increased flooding during the wet seasons and decreased precipitation during the dry season. Greater than normal floods occurred in 2009 and in all years from 2011–2015 during high water seasons, and a drought occurred during the 2010 low water season. During these years, we surveyed populations of terrestrial, arboreal and aquatic wildlife in a seasonally flooded Amazonian forest to study the consequences of intensification of climatic fluctuations to wildlife populations and in turn resource use by traditional people. Intensive floods and droughts have recently resulted in shifts in fish and terrestrial mammal populations in flooded forests, a major landscape in western Amazonia that make up 99,780 km2 of the Loreto region in Peru. The intensive floods caused terrestrial mammal populations to decrease by 95% with ungulates, terrestrial rodents and terrestrial edentates having increased mortality because they were forced onto small patches of land during peak flood pulses, and drowning during the historically high floods of 2012 and 2015. In contrast, fish increased and benefited from longer access to inundated forests, resulting in healthy populations of waterfowl, dolphins, otters and caimans. Arboreal species, including, macaws, game birds, primates, felids and other arboreal mammals had stable populations and were not affected directly by high floods. The drought of 2010 had the opposite consequences with decreases in fish, waterfowl and dolphin populations, and stable populations of terrestrial and arboreal species. Ungulates and large rodents are important wildmeat species for local people and their dramatic decline has shifted resource use of people living in the flooded forests with less reliance on hunting and greater use of fish.

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