April 22, 2020 report
Deforestation in the Amazon threatens short-eared dog
A large international team of researchers has found evidence that suggests deforestation in the Amazon is putting the native short-eared dog at risk. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes their study of the dogs and what they learned about them.
The short-eared dog (also known as the short-eared zorro) is a rare canine—it lives only in parts of the Amazon river basin and is the only endemic canid in the region. And like so many other creatures that inhabit the region, its existence is under threat due to deforestation, the researchers with this new effort discovered. Like pet dogs, the short-eared dog is a member of the canine family, but it is not of the Canis genus—instead, it is a single unique species: Atelocynus microtis, found only in a small area south of the Amazon River.
The researchers note that little work has been done to study the dogs (partly because of the difficulty—the dogs are notoriously shy) and thus, it was not known how they were faring in the face of human encroachment. To find out, the researchers set up a host of cameras across a wide swath of their territory, each configured to capture the animals in their native environment. In studying the captured video, the researchers focused most specifically on how the dogs behaved in different types of forest. Prior research had suggested their preferred range was lush, untouched forest.
The videos showed that as expected, the dogs fared well in lush areas. Unfortunately, they did less well in areas with less tree growth. The researchers also mapped the areas where the dogs lived by terrain, which allowed them to see how much of the area was lush, compared to areas that were sparser. They then added markers indicating areas that were included in deforestation plans. This showed them that the land available to the dogs was shrinking, suggesting that they are more at risk than has been thought. At the current time, the dogs are listed as "near threatened." They suggest that the dogs be reclassified as "vulnerable."
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