The biggest and best-known population of Brazilian Merganser Mergus octosetaceus occurs in the region of Serra da Canastra National Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil. However, prior to our study it had been recorded in only six sites in the park and its buffer zone. In 2001 and 2002 we surveyed the region to confirm the occurrence of the Brazilian Merganser in different areas within and outside the park. Samples were taken by walking along the banks of the watercourses, using tape-recording playback. We sampled 49 stretches of streams, and observed Brazilian Mergansers in nine localities, totalling 29 sightings. Taking into consideration the reports by biologists who participated in the fieldwork for the review of the park's management plan, the guaranteed reports of the occurrence of the species from local people, and the sites where its occurrence is judged to be very likely, we believe there are at least 81 individuals in the areas sampled. We point out that the absence of records in an area does not mean the absence of the species. Indeed, the presence of the Brazilian Merganser was confirmed, after the end of our field studies, in some stretches where we indicated its occurrence as very likely but had failed to detect it during the sampling. All anthropogenic activities that influence the quality and integrity of the rivers and their banks are a potential threat to Mergus octosetaceus. Efforts to preserve the species entail the conservation of its habitats, which comprise important watercourses and the surrounding natural vegetation.
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