Effect of free-ranging cattle on mammalian diversity: an Austral Yungas case study

Griet An Erica Cuyckens, Noelia Viviana Gonzalez Baffa Trasci, Pablo Gastón Perovic, Lucio Ricardo Malizia
2022 Oryx  
Extensive cattle ranging is an important economic activity in mountains, with diverse effects on native mammal communities. The effects of cattle Bos taurus can be negative, positive or neutral, mostly depending on the stocking rate. We examined the effect of cattle on the diversity and abundance of native mammalian species in the Austral Yungas region of Argentina, considering environmental variables, land protection status, and human influence. Using 12,512 trap-nights from 167 camera-trap
more » ... tions over 11 years (2009–2019), we calculated a relative abundance index using camera events and used generalized linear models to estimate the effect of cattle on small mammals, large herbivores, species of conservation concern and felids. Cattle had different effects on each group of native mammals. We observed a lower abundance of large native herbivores and the absence of small mammals in areas with high cattle abundance. The tapir Tapirus terrestris, jaguar Panthera onca and white-lipped peccary Tayassu pecari are rare in the Yungas and therefore potentially vulnerable to extinction there. Conservation of small felids and low cattle abundance could be compatible, but felids are threatened by other anthropogenic influences. Native mammalian diversity and richness were related to land protection status. The entire ecoregion is potentially suitable for cattle, suggesting the potential for further threats, and that cattle should be excluded from strictly protected areas. To ensure extensive cattle ranging is compatible with wildlife conservation in areas where exclusion is not possible, we recommend improved management of cattle and moderate stocking rates.
doi:10.1017/s0030605321001538 fatcat:nndxylhgwngshm4nmxogfbaobu