Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Edge effects without habitat fragmentation? Small mammals and a railway in the Atlantic Forest of southern Brazil

  • Ricardo A. S. Cerboncini (a1), James J. Roper (a1) and Fernando C. Passos (a1)

Edge effects have been studied extensively in fragmented landscapes, often with conflicting findings. Edge effects may also be important in other situations, such as linear clearings (e.g. along roads, power lines or train tracks). We tested for responses of small mammals to a narrow (c. 10 m) linear clearing created by a railway in the largest area of Atlantic Forest in southern Brazil. Only two environmental variables, light intensity and train noise, were greatest at the edge and decreased with distance from the edge. Temperature differed (greater extremes and more variable) only at the edge itself. The few small mammal species that were only rarely captured at the edge resulted in an apparent edge-effect with respect to species richness. The abundance of small mammals, however, was independent of distance from the railway. There was no correlation between resource availability at the tracks and abundance of small mammals. Edge effects were minimal, which suggests that narrow railways (in contrast with roads) in unfragmented landscapes probably do not have a significant impact (if any) on wildlife, as found elsewhere and especially in tropical forests. The use of railways instead of roads is a potential strategy to minimize the effects of traversing important habitats for commercial reasons.

Corresponding author
(Corresponding author) E-mail
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

S.N. Atkinson & M.A. Ramsay (1995) The effects of prolonged fasting on the body composition and reproductive success of female polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Functional Ecology, 9, 559567.

F.A. Bazzaz (1979) The physiological ecology of plant succession. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 10, 351371.

A. Berg & T. Pärt (1994) Abundance of breeding farmland birds on arable and set-aside fields at forest edges. Ecography, 17, 147152.

N.K. Boardman (1977) Comparative photosynthesis of sun and shade plants. Annual Review of Plant Physiology, 28, 355377.

T.S. Brothers & A. Spingarn (1992) Forest fragmentation and alien plant invasion of central Indiana old-growth forests. Conservation Biology, 6, 91100.

M.L. Cadenasso , M.M. Traynor & S.T.A. Pickett (1997) Functional location of forest edges: gradients of multiple physical factors. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 27, 774782.

S.M. Carthew , K.M.W. Jones & M. Lawes (2013) Responses of small vertebrates to linear clearings in a South Australian woodland. Ecological Research, 28, 10031010.

R.A.S. Cerboncini , M.B.G. Rubio , I.P. Bernardi , T.V. Braga , J.J. Roper & F.C. Passos (2014) Small mammal community structure and vertical space use preferences in nonfragmented Atlantic Forest. Mammalia, 78, 429436.

J. Chen , J.F. Franklin & T.A. Spies (1993) Contrasting microclimates among clearcut, edge, and interior of old-growth Douglas-fir forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 63, 219237.

R.K. Didham & J.H. Lawton (1999) Edge structure determines the magnitude of changes in microclimate and vegetation structure in tropical forest fragments. Biotropica, 31, 1730.

F.S. Dobson & G.R. Michener (1995) Maternal traits and reproduction in Richardson's ground squirrels. Ecology, 76, 851862.

W.F. Fagan , R.S. Cantrell & C. Cosner (1999) How habitat edges change species interactions. The American Naturalist, 153, 165182.

P.M. Fearnside (2007) Brazil's Cuiabá-Santarém (BR-163) highway: the environmental cost of paving a soybean corridor through the Amazon. Environmental Management, 39, 601614.

E. Fuentes-Montemayor , A.D. Cuarón , E. Vázquez-Domínguez , J. Benítez-Malvido , D. Valenzuela-Galván & E. Andresen (2009) Living on the edge: roads and edge effects on small mammal populations. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78, 857865.

C. Gascon , T.E. Lovejoy , R.O. Bierregaard , J.R. Malcom , P.C. Stouffer , H.L. Vasconcelos (1999) Matrix habitat and species richness in tropical forest remnants. Biological Conservation, 91, 223229.

M. Goosem (2000) Effects of tropical rainforest roads on small mammals: edge changes in community composition. Wildlife Research, 27, 151163.

K.A. Harper , S.E. MacDonald , P.J. Burton , J. Chen , K.D. Brosofske , S.C. Saunders (2005) Edge influence on forest structure and composition in fragmented landscapes. Conservation Biology, 19, 768782.

L.D. Harris (1988) Edge effects and conservation of biotic diversity. Conservation Biology, 2, 330332.

S.G.W. Laurance (2004) Responses of understory rain forest birds to road edges in central Amazonia. Ecological Applications, 14, 13441357.

W.F. Laurance (1994) Rainforest fragmentation and the structure of small mammal communities in tropical Queensland. Biological Conservation, 69, 2332.

W.F. Laurance , A.K.M. Albernaz , P.M. Fearnside , H.L. Vasconcelos & L.V. Ferreira (2004) Deforestation in Amazonia. Science, 304, 1109–1111.

W.F. Laurance , M. Goosem & S.G.W. Laurance (2009) Impacts of roads and linear clearings on tropical forests. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 24, 659669.

W.F. Laurance , T.E. Lovejoy , H.L. Vasconcelos , E.M. Bruna , R.K. Didham , P.C. Stouffer (2002) Ecosystem decay of Amazonian forest fragments: a 22-year investigation. Conservation Biology, 16, 605618.

G.R. Matlack (1993) Microenvironment variation within and among forest edge sites in the eastern United States. Biological Conservation, 66, 185194.

G.R. Matlack (1994) Vegetation dynamics of the forest edge—trends in space and successional time. Journal of Ecology, 82, 113123.

D. McCollin (1998) Forest edges and habitat selection in birds: a functional approach. Ecography, 21, 247260.

J.S. Millar & G.J. Hickling (1990) Fasting endurance and the evolution of mammalian body size. Functional Ecology, 4, 512.

C. Murcia (1995) Edge effects in fragmented forests: implications for conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 10, 5862.

M.A. Oliveira , A.S. Grillo & M. Tabarelli (2004) Forest edge in the Brazilian Atlantic forest: drastic changes in tree species assemblages. Oryx, 38, 389394.

B.J. Palik & P.G. Murphy (1990) Disturbance versus edge effects in sugar-maple/beech forest fragments. Forest Ecology and Management, 32, 187202.

R. Pardini (2004) Effects of forest fragmentation on small mammals in an Atlantic Forest landscape. Biodiversity and Conservation, 13, 25672586.

R. Pardini , S.M. de Souza , R. Braga-Neto & J.P. Metzger (2005) The role of forest structure, fragment size and corridors in maintaining small mammal abundance and diversity in an Atlantic forest landscape. Biological Conservation, 124, 253266.

A.S. Pires , P.K. Lira , F.A.S. Fernandez , G.M. Schittini & L.C. Oliveira (2002) Frequency of movements of small mammals among Atlantic coastal forest fragments in Brazil. Biological Conservation, 108, 229237.

C.L. Pohlman , S.M. Turton & M. Goosem (2007) Edge effects of linear canopy openings on tropical rain forest understory microclimate. Biotropica, 39, 6271.

M.C. Ribeiro , J.P. Metzger , A.C. Martensen , F.J. Ponzoni & M.M. Hirota (2009) The Brazilian Atlantic Forest: How much is left, and how is the remaining forest distributed? Implications for conservation. Biological Conservation, 142, 11411153.

L. Ries , R.J. Fletcher Jr, J. Battin & T.D. Sisk (2004) Ecological responses to habitat edges: mechanisms, models, and variability explained. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 35, 491522.

L. Ries & T.D. Sisk (2004) A predictive model of edge effects. Ecology, 85, 29172926.

P. Ruiz-Capillas , C. Mata & J.E. Malo (2013) Road verges are refuges for small mammal populations in extensively managed Mediterranean landscapes. Biological Conservation, 158, 223229.

A.I. Schulte-Hostedde , J.S. Millar & G.J. Hickling (2001) Evaluating body condition in small mammals. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 79, 10211029.

A.I. Schulte-Hostedde , B. Zinner , J.S. Millar & G.J. Hickling (2005) Restitution of mass–size residuals: validating body condition indices. Ecology, 86, 155163.

R.S. Sikes , W.L. Gannon & The Animal Careand Use Committeeofthe American Societyof Mammalogists (2011) Guidelines of the American Society of Mammalogists for the use of wild mammals in research. Journal of Mammalogy, 92, 235253.

V.L. Sork (1983) Distribution of pignut hickory (Carya glabra) along a forest to edge transect, and factors affecting seedling recruitment. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, 110, 494506.

S.M. Stevens & T.P. Husband (1998) The influence of edge on small mammals: evidence from Brazilian Atlantic forest fragments. Biological Conservation, 85, 18.

F. Vanhoni & F. Mendonça (2008) O clima do litoral do estado do Paraná. Revista Brasileira de Climatologia, 3/4, 4963.

M.V. Vieira , N. Olifiers , A.C. Delciellos , V.Z. Antunes , L.R. Bernardo , C.E.V. Grelle & R. Cerqueira (2009) Land use vs fragment size and isolation as determinants of small mammal composition and richness in Atlantic Forest remnants. Biological Conservation, 142, 11911200.

J.A. Virgl & F. Messier (1992) Seasonal variation in body composition and morphology of adult muskrats in central Saskatchewan, Canada. Journal of Zoology, 228, 461477.

E.B. Viveiros de Castro & F.A.S. Fernandez (2004) Determinants of differential extinction vulnerabilities of small mammals in Atlantic forest fragments in Brazil. Biological Conservation, 119, 7380.

L.A. Wauters & A.A. Dhondt (1995) Lifetime reproductive success and its correlates in female Eurasian red squirrels. Oikos, 72, 402410.

R.H. Yahner (1988) Changes in wildlife communities near edges. Conservation Biology, 2, 333339.

A. Young & N. Mitchell (1994) Microclimate and vegetation edge effects in a fragmented podocarp-broadleaf forest in New Zealand. Biological Conservation, 67, 6372.

K.R. Young (1994) Roads and the environmental degradation of tropical montane forests. Conservation Biology, 8, 972976.

G.L. Zuercher , D.D. Roby & E.A. Rexstad (1999) Seasonal changes in body mass, composition, and organs of northern red-backed voles in interior Alaska. Journal of Mammalogy, 80, 443459.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 50 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 312 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 30th March 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.