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PeerJ. 2018 Jun 27;6:e5058. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5058. eCollection 2018.

Seasonal dynamics of terrestrial vertebrate abundance between Amazonian flooded and unflooded forests.

Author information

Programa de Pós-graduação em Zoologia, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Belém, Brazil.
Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
Field Conservation and Science Department, Bristol Zoological Society, Bristol, United Kingdom.


The flood pulse is the main factor structuring and differentiating the ecological communities of Amazonian unflooded (terra firme) and seasonally-flooded (várzea) forests as they require unique adaptations to survive the prolonged annual floods. Therefore, várzea and terra firme forests hammer out a spatio-temporal mosaic of resource availability, which may result in landscape scale seasonal movements of terrestrial vertebrates between adjacent forest types. Yet the lateral movements of terrestrial vertebrates between hydrologically distinct neighbouring forest types exhibiting staggered resource availability remains poorly understood, despite the important implications of this spatial dynamic for the ecology and conservation of forest wildlife. We examined the hypothesis of terrestrial fauna seasonal movements between two adjacent forest types at two contiguous sustainable-use forest reserves in Western Brazilian Amazonia. We used camera trapping data on the overall species richness, composition, and abundance of nine major vertebrate trophic guilds to infer on terrestrial vertebrate movements as a function of seasonal changes in floodplain water level. Species richness differed in neighboring terra firme forests between the high-and low-water phases of the flood pulse and terra firme forests were more species rich than várzea forests. There were clear differences in species composition between both forest types and seasons. Generalized Linear Models showed that water level was the main factor explaining aggregate abundance of all species and three trophic guilds. Our results indicate that the persistence of viable populations of large terrestrial vertebrates adjacent to major Amazonian rivers requires large, well-connected forest landscapes encompassing different forest types to ensure large-scale lateral movements by forest wildlife.


Camera-trapping; Flood pulse; Floodplain dynamics; Seasonal movements; Várzea; Wetlands

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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