Natureza & Conservação Natureza & Conservação
Nat Con 2016;14:88-98 DOI: 10.1016/j.ncon.2016.09.003
Research Letters
Processes related to habitat selection, diversity and niche similarity in assemblages of non-volant small mammals at grassland–forest ecotones
André Luís Luzaa,, , Gislene Lopes Gonçalvesb,c, Valério D. Pillara, Sandra Maria Hartza
a Postgraduate Program in Ecology, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
b Department of Genetics, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
c Instituto de Alta Investigación, Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Chile
Received 07 May 2016, Accepted 21 September 2016
Abstract

Habitat suitability for mammal species in grassland/forest ecotones may be affected by changes in abiotic conditions (e.g. light incidence), grazing and burning disturbances, and woody encroachment. We evaluate models addressing the role of such factors on structuring non-volant small mammal assemblages considering (1) only disturbed and (2) all ecotones (disturbed and undisturbed). A complete model (i.e., abiotic gradients, disturbances and woody encroachment) was the most plausible for abundance considering all ecotones, and for niche similarity considering both all and only disturbed ecotones. Niche similarity increased with distance from hydric resources, and abundance with increasing vegetation height. Further, disturbed habitats harbored simplified species assemblages. Habitat selection was detected in all ecotones due to the occurrence of habitat-specialist species on undisturbed sites. We did not find an exclusive influence of woody encroachment on mammal diversity. Patterns described here are relevant for management of productive lands and for biodiversity conservation.

Keywords
Campos Sulinos, Forest expansion, Grassy biomes’ fauna, Livestock management, Mammal functional traits