SPACE UTILIZATION BY SMALL MAMMALS: AN OVERVIEW OF STUDIES IN BRAZIL
Keywords:Home range, habitat selection, vertical stratification, radiotracking, spool-and-line technique.
Utilization of space refers to the intensity of exploitation of a habitat by a species, including the amount and quality of the exploited habitat. It is an important factor driving the abundance and distribution of animal species. Brazilian small mammals have been used as models to evaluate space utilization by tropical mammals in general, but it is yet unclear whether knowledge about the species, biomes, different aspects of space use, and even the techniques being employed in Brazil are representative of other regions. The present study presents a review of studies on space utilization by small mammals in Brazil published from 1945 to 2007. Fifty-eight publications were found, most of which were conducted in the Atlantic Forest (65%). Within this biome, marsupials were the most common taxon examined (86%) followed by rodents (53%). In the Cerrado, these figures changed to 44% and 100%, respectively. Only 14% of the studies dealt with vertical utilization of space. The great majority of the publications (75%) used capture-mark-recapture methods with live traps (CMR). Current knowledge of space utilization by Brazilian small mammals was mainly based on few genera from a single biome -- the Atlantic Forest -- using a technique that records only part of the movement patterns of these animals (CMR). Future studies that fill the gaps indicated here will hopefully allow the detection and establishment of more general patterns of space use by tropical mammals.