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Mysterious decline of small mammals in Bolivia may be linked to burning Amazon

Source:  Copyright 2009, Mongabay
Date:  April 19, 2009
Byline:  Jeremy Hance
Original URL: Status ONLINE

During ten years surveying small mammal populations in Bolivia's cerrado, Dr. Louise Emmons with the Smithsonian Institute found that the mammals were suffering precipitous declines, even local extinctions. After ruling out the usual suspects--local fires, rainfall, and flooding--Emmons formed a novel hypothesis regarding the decline. Could a sudden lack of nighttime dew caused by the burning of the Amazon be the cause of the mammal decline?

In the cerrado--a tropical region of grasslands and dry forest--Emmons watched as the Brazilian guinea pig Cavia aperea went locally extinct, and three other rodent species declined significantly: the South American giant rat Kunsia tomentosa, the Paraguayan Bolo mouse Necromys lenguarum, and the Huanchaca mouse Juscelinomys huanchacae. Surveying two different areas in the cerrado, Emmons found a nearly 96 percent decline in small mammals, from a high point of 232 individuals surveyed to a low of ten. In 2004 guinea pigs vanished ...

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