Combining ecological aspects and local knowledge for the conservation of two native mammals in the Gran Chaco (ScienceDirect Publication: Journal of Arid Environments)

Publication date: Available online 2 August 2017
Source:Journal of Arid Environments
Author(s): Maria E. Periago, Daniela M. Tamburini, Ricardo A. Ojeda, Daniel M. Cáceres, Sandra Díaz
Land use changes in the South American Gran Chaco affect native fauna and the ecosystem services (ES) they provide. The consequences of defaunation and the empty forest syndrome have been identified in tropical and subtropical forests, including the Gran Chaco. Local knowledge regarding native species and the provision of ES can be integrated with scientific research for a better understanding of the system and the consequences of species loss. The aim of this study was to explore whether the Pampas fox (Lycalopex gymnocercus) and the collared peccary (Pecari tajacu) use six distinct natural and modified habitat types available in the arid Chaco, their role as seed dispersers, and the rural community's perception. We found that the Pampas fox used all habitat types except intensive annual cropland, while the collared peccary used only primary forest within a protected area. Both species exhibited a highly frugivorous diet and were seed dispersers of several native plant species. Interviewees hunted both species; they perceived the Pampas fox as a pest and the collared peccary as a source of food or income. The campesino's perception and involvement is essential for the conservation of the Chacoan forest and the ES provided.