A methodological approach to assess the small mammal community diversity in the temperate rainforest of Patagonia
Assessing small mammal diversity is a common procedure, which usually employs widespread standard techniques, for gathering information for a wide range of studies. Traditional methods, however, may be biased against capturing arboreal marsupials, such as Dromiciops gliroides, an endemic marsupial currently considered a rare species in the Patagonian temperate rainforest due to the low abundances reported previously. I tested a new capturing methodology to assess the small mammal diversity of an old-growth forest in Patagonia, based on a randomized and balanced design, which incorporated a combination of different trap types, bait types, and placement heights. The proposed methodology included four trap types (two for live-capturing: wire-mesh and Sherman traps, and two sign-recording traps for tracks and hair), two types of bait (banana and rolled oats), and two trap placements (ground level and 1.5–2.5 m above the ground). Trap type, bait type, and height of placement all had significantly different effects on capturing and detecting rodents or marsupials; environmental variables at the trap location also affected the ability to detect rodents and marsupials. Traditional methods used for sampling small mammals performed well for rodents but are not effective for capturing marsupials and vice versa, showing species-specific sampling protocols. There is no single combination of trap-bait-height capable to assess the entire small mammal community, but the combination of the most effective protocol for rodents and the most effective protocol for marsupials guarantee better results.
KeywordsSmall mammals Diversity assessment Capture efficiency Sampling artifact Patagonian temperate rainforest
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