Wild dogs at stake: deforestation threatens the only Amazon endemic canid, the short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis)

Daniel G. Rocha, Katia Maria Paschoaletto Micchi De Barros Ferraz, Lucas Gonçalves, Cedric Kai Wei Tan, Frederico G. Lemos, Carolina Ortiz, Carlos A. Peres, Nuno Negrões, André Pinassi Antunes, Fabio Rohe, Mark Abrahams, Galo Zapata-Rios, Davi Teles, Tadeu Oliveira, Eduardo M. Von Mühlen, Eduardo Venticinque, Diogo M. Gräbin, Diego Mosquera B., John Blake, Marcela Guimarães Moreira LimaRicardo Sampaio, Alexandre Reis Percequillo, Felipe Peters, Esteban Payán, Luiz Henrique Medeiros Borges, Armando Muniz Calouro, Whaldener Endo, Renata Leite Pitman, Torbjørn Haugaasen, Diego Afonso Silva, Fabiano R. De Melo, André Luis Botelho De Moura, Hugo C. M. Costa, Camile Lugarini, Ilnaiara Gonçalves De Sousa, Samuel Nienow, Fernanda Santos, Ana Cristina Mendes-Oliveiras, Wezddy Del Toro-Orozco, Ana Rafaela D'Amico, Ana Luisa Albernaz, André Ravetta, Elaine Christina Oliveira Do Carmo, Emiliano Ramalho, João Valsecchi, Anthony J. Giordano, Robert Wallace, David W. Macdonald, Rahel Sollmann

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The persistent high deforestation rate and fragmentation of the Amazon forests are the main threats to their biodiversity. To anticipate and mitigate these threats, it is important to understand and predict how species respond to the rapidly changing landscape. The short-eared dog Atelocynus microtis is the only Amazon-endemic canid and one of the most understudied wild dogs worldwide. We investigated short-eared dog habitat associations on two spatial scales. First, we used the largest record database ever compiled for short-eared dogs in combination with species distribution models to map species habitat suitability, estimate its distribution range and predict shifts in species distribution in response to predicted deforestation across the entire Amazon (regional scale). Second, we used systematic camera trap surveys and occupancy models to investigate how forest cover and forest fragmentation affect the space use of this species in the Southern Brazilian Amazon (local scale). Species distribution models suggested that the short-eared dog potentially occurs over an extensive and continuous area, through most of the Amazon region south of the Amazon River. However, approximately 30% of the short-eared dog's current distribution is expected to be lost or suffer sharp declines in habitat suitability by 2027 (within three generations) due to forest loss. This proportion might reach 40% of the species distribution in unprotected areas and exceed 60% in some interfluves (i.e. portions of land separated by large rivers) of the Amazon basin. Our local-scale analysis indicated that the presence of forest positively affected short-eared dog space use, while the density of forest edges had a negative effect. Beyond shedding light on the ecology of the short-eared dog and refining its distribution range, our results stress that forest loss poses a serious threat to the conservation of the species in a short time frame. Hence, we propose a re-assessment of the short-eared dog's current IUCN Red List status (Near Threatened) based on findings presented here. Our study exemplifies how data can be integrated across sources and modelling procedures to improve our knowledge of relatively understudied species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number190717
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2020


  • Carnivore conservation
  • Deforestation
  • Endemic species
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Multi-scale analysis
  • Species distribution

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