Small mammal assemblages in fragmented shrublands of urban areas of Central Chile

Ignacio C. Fernández, Javier A. Simonetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mediterranean-type ecosystems are one of the most affected environments by habitat loss and fragmentation due to urban development, however only few studies have evaluated the effects of urbanization on the biodiversity of remnant fragments in these ecosystems. This study aims to evaluate the effects of urban development over small mammal assemblages inhabiting isolated forest fragments of an urban area of Chilean Mediterranean zone. We compared abundance and richness of small mammal assemblages of six remnant fragments within an urban matrix, and six fragments similar in area and habitat characteristics with those of urban area, but surrounded by a rural matrix. We found that small mammal assemblages differ considerably among fragments types (urban vs rural), with lack of endemic species from urban fragments and with high proportion of introduced rodents in urban fragments. Furthermore abundance of small mammals was higher in rural than in urban fragments. In urban areas small mammal abundance and richness were not correlated with any of the explanatory variables assessed (woody cover, flora heterogeneity, fragment area, perimeter/area ratio). However in rural fragments small mammal richness was negatively correlated with flora heterogeneity and the abundance of small mammals was positively correlated with perimeter/area ratio. These results reveal important differences within the effects of fragmentation over small mammal assemblages among the two types of fragments assessed. Our findings suggest that in forest fragments isolated by urbanization, larger areas with good quality habitats are not sufficient to maintain native small mammal population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-387
Number of pages11
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Mediterranean ecosystems
  • Species invasion
  • Urban ecology
  • Urbanization
  • Vegetation remnants

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