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DIET OF THE THIN-SPINED PORCUPINE (CHAETOMYS SUBSPINOSUS) IN THE ATLANTIC FOREST: EFFECTS OF HABITAT REDUCTION AND CHEMICAL FEATURES
The thin-spined porcupine (Chaetomys subspinosus Olfers, 1818) is an endemic and threatened rodent from Atlantic Forest. Previous studies have shown its strictly leaf-based diet, highly concentrated on a few tree species. However, the diet of few individuals (n = 7) were studied to date and all were residents of small forest fragments. We aimed to evaluate whether this species maintains a diet based strictly on leaves and concentrated on such a previously known set of plant species, even when inhabiting larger forest fragments. For this, we assessed the diet composition of 19 radiotracked individuals inhabiting small (< 50 ha; n = 10) and large (> 500 ha; n = 9) forest fragments in landscapes located in southern Bahia state. We compared the composition and diversity of the diet in terms of items and species consumed in these extreme fragment size conditions. Secondly, we aimed to evaluate the influence of leaf chemical composition on the consumption of plant species. Our result confirm that the thin-spined porcupine is a strict folivore species, with individuals responding to the decrease in forest size by reducing the diversity of plant species consumed, but not by feeding on new plant parts. Although the diet was richer in larger forest fragments, some species and specific genus were the most consumed in both fragment-size categories and were the basis of the diet of previously studied animals. Crude protein influenced the leaf consumption of the plant species, while fiber, tannin and phenol contents were not avoided. Despite its high degree of dietary specialization, species showed some flexibility in adapting their diet according to the availability of tree species. The influence of the habitat size reduction on food diversity may be a risk factor for the species, although it is crucial to investigate the impacts on the nutritional status and overall fitness of animals.
threatened species; folivore; feeding ecology; plant secondary metabolites; diet diversity; habitat loss; forest fragments.
We thanks CNPq and CAPES for financial support through of the projects linked to Rede SISBIOTA (563216/2010-7), CASADINHO/PROCAD (552198/2011-0), and INCT (IN-Tree 465767/2014-1), as well as we are grateful the CAPES for providing fellowships for K. F. M. da Silva. This research received the legal permit (license number 27021-1) from the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio).
Gastón Andrés Fernandez Giné, Kena Ferrari Moreira da Silva, Deborah Faria