Location: Iguazú National Park and Urugua-í Provincial Park, Misiones, Argentina
Research: Effect of Ungulate Defaunation on Seed Predation and Seedling Recruitment in the Atlantic Forest of Argentina: Predicting Long Term Consequences of Hunting on Rainforest
Species/Topic: Ungulates (peccaries, tapir, deer)/Atlantic Forest ecoregion
Abstract: Over-hunting of large mammals can produce significant changes in the structure and dynamics of tropical forests. This threat, also called defaunation, can be more important and less obvious than deforestation. Ungulate species like peccaries, tapir and deer are preferred bushmeat by the hunters. These large herbivores play important roles as "gardeners" of the forest landscape. The long-term consequences of ungulate defaunation on the structure and dynamics of the Atlantic Forest are unknown. I will evaluate the effects of ungulate loss on the recruitment, diversity and composition of the Atlantic Forest in Misiones (Argentina) through selective exclusion plot experiments in two protected areas without hunting. This project will also compare the effects between palmital (a keystone species) and non-palmital habitats. The effect of defaunation is very critical information needed for long-term wildlife management in the protected areas of the Atlantic Forest.