Johnathan Watts – Guardian, 8/14/2012
Jaguars, tapirs, giant anteaters and spider monkeys have become “virtually extinct” in Brazil‘s Atlantic forest, while other species are being lost faster than previously believed due to the fragmentation and emptying of the once dense canopy by farmers and hunters, according to research published on Tuesday.
The authors of the study say their findings have global implications for conservation because they confirm the quantity of forest cover is an unreliable indicator of biodiversity – more important is the quality of the forest and the measures taken to protect the fauna within it.
The two-year research project, which was led by the University of East Anglia, looked for signs of 18 mammal species in 196 fragmented areas of forest. They found little more than a fifth of the 3,528 possible mammal populations. White-lipped peccaries, a native pig species, were completely wiped out. Many others were on the brink of disappearing.