The identification of key habitat types for wildlife is an essential step to plan and promote sustainable land management strategies. Private cattle ranches occupy most of the Brazilian Pantanal and the recent intensification in land use practices is thought to threaten wildlife. Using encounter rates from transects, landscape use and habitat selection of the community of medium to large-sized mammals was examined to identify key wildlife habitats. Overall landscapes that had a higher proportion of forested habitats were the most used by wildlife. Within the different landscapes, forested environments can be considered key habitats for most of the native mammals considered in this study. Unfortunately, theses are also the habitats most at risk by the recent changes in land use practices. Results from this study predict that current intensifications of ranching practices will be detrimental to wildlife. In addition to deforestation, other threats such as land degradation, fire, landscape alterations such as fencing and artificial water holes may also impact landscape and habitat quality. The key to conserving biodiversity in the Pantanal is preserving the natural habitat matrix that sustains the diversity of landscapes and to continue integrating cattle ranching into the natural processes that sustain a functioning ecosystem.
Key words: Deforestation, floodplain, habitat selection, Neotropical mammals, Brazilian Pantanal.
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