Mammalian Biology

, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 243–250 | Cite as

The cacao agroforests of the Brazilian Atlantic forest as habitat for the endangered maned sloth Bradypus torquatus

  • Camila Righetto Cassano
  • Maria Cecília Martins Kierulff
  • Adriano G. ChiarelloEmail author
Original Investigation


Sloths are arboreal mammals strictly dependent upon forested habitats. The southern part of the state of Bahia in northeastern Brazil harbors important forest remnants and the highest genetic diversity known for the maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus), an endangered species endemic to the Atlantic forest. Large extents of cacao agroforests (cabrucas) connected to forest patches mitigate the effects of fragmentation in this region. We radio-tracked three maned sloths during 40 months in a cabruca at the vicinity of Una Biological Reserve, southern Bahia, and estimated their home range using two commonly employed estimators (minimum convex polygon (MCP) and kernel). Overall cabrucas comprised a significant portion of the home range of the three study animals (MCP: 7–100%) and at least a third of the areas of more intensive use (kernel: 27–99%). The tagged sloths used cabrucas more than expected according to the availability of this habitat in their home range and in the surrounding landscape. In addition to the tagged individuals, maned sloths were observed five times in the study area, twice in cabrucas. Eleven tree species present in cabrucas were used as food sources by maned sloths. Results indicate that biologically rich cacao agroforests immersed in a landscape still largely composed of native forests, as is the case here, can provide habitat for the maned sloth. This finding spells good news for the conservation of this species, as southern Bahia is one of the most important strongholds for the maned sloth. However, further actions are necessary to protect the species from local extinction, including active management of protected areas, forest fragments, cabrucas and pastures in an integrated, landscape-level manner.


Xenarthra Pilosa Cocoa plantation Home range Radio telemetry Theobroma cacao 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alves, M.C., 1990. The role of cacao plantations in the conservation of the Atlantic Forest of Southern Bahia, Brazil. Dissertation, University of Florida.Google Scholar
  2. Alves, T.F., 2005. Distribuição geográfica, forófitos e espécies de bromélias epífitas nas matas e plantações de cacau da região de Una, Bahia. Dissertation, Universidade de Campinas.Google Scholar
  3. Alvim, P.T. 1972. Cacau: ontem e hoje. CEPLAC, Ilhéus.Google Scholar
  4. Amorim, A.M., Thomas, W.W., Carvalho, A.M., Jardim, J.G., 2008. Floristic of the Una Biological Reserve, Bahia, Brazil. In: Thomas, W.W. (Ed.), The Atlantic Costal Forest of Northeastern Brazil. New York Botanical Garden Press, New York, pp. 67–146.Google Scholar
  5. Araújo, M., Alger, K., Rocha, R., Mesquita, C.A.B., 1998. A Mata Atlântica no sul da Bahia. Cadernos da Reserva da Biosfera da Mata Atlântica, vol. 8. Conselho Nacional da Reserva da Biosfera da Mata Atlántica, São Paulo.Google Scholar
  6. Bali, A., Kumar, A., Krishnaswamy, J., 2007. The mammalian communities in coffee plantations around a protected área in the Western Ghats, India. Biol. Conserv. 139, 93–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barreto, R.M.F., Cassano, C.R., 2007. Uso do habitat por uma preguiça-de-coleira (Bradypus torquatus) em plantação de cacau (Theobroma cacao L.) sombreada por árvores nativas no sul da Bahia. In: I Simpósio sobre Paisagem Cacaueira e Biodiversidade no Sudeste da Bahia, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Ilhéus, 8–9 October 2007.Google Scholar
  8. Cassano, C.R., 2006. Ecologia e conservação da preguiça-de-coleira (Bradypus torquatus Illiger, 1811) no sul da Bahia. MSc Dissertation, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz.Google Scholar
  9. Cassano, C.R., Götz, S., Faria, D., Delabie, J.H.C., Bede, L., 2009. Landscape and farm scale management to enhance biodiversity conservation in the cocoa production region of southern Bahia, Brazil. Biodivers. Conserv. 18, 577–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chiarello, A.G., 1998a. Diet of the Atlantic Forest maned sloth Bradypus torquatus (Xenarthra: Bradypodidae). J. Zool. (London) 246, 11–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chiarello, A.G., 1998b. Activity budgets and ranging patterns of the Atlantic forest maned sloth Bradypus torquatus (Xenarthra: Bradypodidae). J. Zool. (London) 246, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chiarello, A.G., 2008. Sloth ecology: an overview of field studies. In: Vizcaíno, S.F., Loughry, W.J. (Eds.), The Biology of the Xenarthra. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, pp. 269–280.Google Scholar
  13. Chiarello, A.G., Lara-Ruiz, P., 2004. Species discussions: Bradypus torquatus. Edentata 6, 7–8.Google Scholar
  14. Chiarello, A.G., Chivers, D.J., Bassi, C., Maciel, M.A.F., Moreira, L.S., Bazzalo, M., 2004. A translocation experiment for the conservation of maned sloths, Bradypus torquatus (Xenarthra, Bradypodidae). Biol Conserv. 118, 421–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cork, S.J., Foley, W.J., 1991. Digestive and metabolic strategies of arboreal mammalian folivores in relation to chemical defenses in temperate and tropical forests. In: Palo, R.T., Robbins, C.T. (Eds.), Plant Defenses Against Mammalian Herbivory. CRC Press, pp. 133–166.Google Scholar
  16. Correia, T.L., Cassano, C.R., Barreto, R.M.F., 2006. Comportamento de filhote desmamado e fêmea adulta de preguiça-de-coleira (Bradypus torquatus), Bahia, Brasil. In: VII Congresso Internacional sobre Manejo de Fauna Silvestre na Amazônia e América Latina, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Ilhéus, 3–7 September 2006.Google Scholar
  17. Daily, G.C., Ceballos, G., Pacheco, J., Suzán, G., Sánchez-Azofeifa, A., 2003. Countriside biogeography of Neotropical mammals: conservation opportunities in agricultural landscapes of Costa Rica. Conserv. Biol. 17, 1814–1826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dietz, J.M., De Souza, S.N., Billerbeck, R., 1996. Population dynamics of golden-headed Lion tamarins Leontopithecus chrysomelas in Una Reserve, Brazil. Dodo 32, 115–122.Google Scholar
  19. Faria, D., Laps, R.R., Baumgarten, J., Cetra, M., 2006. Bat and bird assemblages from forests and shade cacao plantations in two contrasting landscape in the Atlantic Forest of southern Bahia, Brazil. Biodivers. Conserv. 15, 587–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Faria, D., Paciencia, M.L.B., Dixo, M., Laps, R.R., Baumgarten, J., 2007. Ferns, frogs, lizards, birds and bats in forest fragments and shade cacao plantations in two contrasting landscape in the Atlantic forest, Brazil. Biodivers. Conserv. 16, 2335–2357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goffart, M., 1971. Function and Form in the Sloth. Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  22. Gouvêa, J.B.S., 1969. Contribuição à geomorfologia do Sul da Bahia: área dos baixos cursos dos rios Pardo e Jequitinhonha. CEPEC/CEPLAC Comunicação Técnica 35, 1–11.Google Scholar
  23. Gutzwiller, K.J., 2002. Applying Landscape Ecology in Biological Conservation. Springer, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harvey, C.A., Gonzalez, J., Somarriba, E., 2006. Dung beetle and terrestrial mammal diversity in forests, indigenous agroforestry systems and plantain monocultures in Salamanca, Costa Rica. Biodivers. Conserv. 15, 555–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. IUCN, 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (11 December 2008).
  26. Johns, N.D., 1999. Conservation in Brazil’s chocolate forest: the unlike persistence of the traditional cocoa agroecosystem. Environ. Manag. 23, 31–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Landau, E.C., Hirsch, A., Musinsky, J., 2008. Vegetation cover and land use in the Atlantic forest of southern Bahia, Brazil, based on satellite imagery: a comparison among municipalities. In: Thomas, W.W., Britton, E.G. (Eds.), The Atlantic Coastal Forest of Northeastern Brazil. Memmoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, vol. 100. The New York Botanical Garden Press, New York.Google Scholar
  28. Lara-Ruiz, P., Chiarello, A.G., 2005. Life-history and sexual dimorphism of the Atlantic forest maned sloth Bradypus torquatus (Xenarthra: Bradypodidae). J. Zool. (London) 267, 63–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lara-Ruiz, P., Chiarello, A.G., Santos, F.R., 2008. Extreme population divergence and conservation implications for the rare endangered Atlantic Forest sloth, Brady-pus torquatus (Pilosa: Bradypodidae). Biol. Conserv. 141, 1332–1342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Machado, A.B.M., Martins, C.S., Drummond, G.M., 2005. Lista da fauna brasileira ameaçada de extinção: incluindo as espécies quase ameaçadas e deficientes em dados. Fundação Biodiversitas, Belo Horizonte.Google Scholar
  31. Martini, A.M.Z., Fiaschi, P., Amorim, A.M., Paixão, J.L., 2007. A hot-point within a hot-spot: a high diversity site in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. Biodivers. Conserv. 16, 3111–3128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Montgomery, G.G., Sunquist, M.E., 1975. Impact of sloths on Neotropical forest energy flow and nutrient cycling. In: Golley, F.B., Medina, E. (Eds.), Tropical Ecology Systems: Trends in Terrestrial and Aquatic Research. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  33. Moura, R.T. 1999. Análise comparativa da estrutura de comunidades de pequenos mamíferos em remanescente de Mata Atlântica e em plantio de cacau em sistema de cabruca no sul da Bahia. MSc Dissertation, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte.Google Scholar
  34. Moura, R.T., 2008. Callistomys pictus. In: Machado, A.B.M., Drummond, G.M., Paglia, A.P. (Eds.), Livro Vermelho da Fauna Brasileira Ameaçada de Extinção. Ministério do Meio Ambiente, Brasília.Google Scholar
  35. Oliveira, L.C., Hankerson, S.J., Dietz, J.M., Raboy, B.E., 2010. Key tree species for the golden-headed lion tamarin and implications for shade-cocoa management in southern Bahia, Brazil. Anim. Conserv. 13, 60–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Oliveira-Filho, A.T., Fontes, M.A.L., 2000. Patterns of floristic differentiation among Atlantic forests in southeastern Brazil and the influence of climate. Biotropica 32, 793–810.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Oliver, W.L.R., Santos, I.B., 1991. Threatened endemic mammals of the Atlantic Forest region of South-east Brazil. Wildlife Preservation Trust Special Scientific Report 4, pp. 21–31.Google Scholar
  38. Pardini, R., 2004. Effects of forest fragmentation on small mammals in an Atlantic Forest landscape. Biodivers. Conserv. 13, 2567–2586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pardini, R., Faria, D., Accacio, G.M., Laps, R.R., Mariano-Neto, E., Paciencia, M.L.B., Dixo, M., Baumgarten, J., 2009. The challenge of maintaining Atlantic forest biodiversity: a multi-taxa conservation assessment of specialist and generalist species in an agro-forestry mosaic in southern Bahia. Biol. Conserv. 142, 1178–1190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Powell, R.A., 2000. Animal home ranges and territories and home ranges estimators. In: Bioitani, L., Fuller, T.K. (Eds.), Research Techniques in Animal Ecology: Controversies and Consequences. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  41. Raboy, B.E., Christman, M.C., Dietz, J.M., 2004. The use of degraded and shaded cocoa forests by endangered golden-headed lion tamarins Leontopithecus chrysomelas. Oryx 38, 75–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Raboy, B.E., Canale, G.R., Dietz, J.M., 2008. Ecology of Callithrix kuhlii and a review of eastern Brazilian Marmosets. Int. J. Primatol. 29, 449–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ribeiro, M.C., Metzger, J.P., Martensen, A.C., Ponzoni, F.J., Hirota, M.M., 2009. The Brazilian Atlantic Forest: how much is left, and how is the remaining forest distributed? Implications for conservation. Biol. Conserv. 142, 1141–1153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rice, A.R., Greenberg, R., 2000. Cacao cultivation and the conservation of biological diversity. Ambio 29, 167–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ricketts, T.H., 2001. The matrix matters: effective isolation in fragmented landscapes. Am. Nat. 158, 87–99.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rolim, S.G., Chiarello, A.G., 2004. Slow death of the Atlantic forest trees in cocoa agroforestry in southeastern Brazil. Biodivers. Conserv. 13, 2679–2694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sambuichi, R.H.R., 2002. Fitossociologia e diversidade de espécies arbóreas em cabrucas (Mata Atlântica raleada sobre plantação de cacau) na região sul da Bahia, Brasil. Acta Bot. Bras. 16, 89–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sambuichi, R.H.R., 2006. Estrutura e dinâmica do componente arbóreo em área de cabruca na região cacaueira do sul da Bahia, Brasil. Acta Bot. Bras. 20, 943–954.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sambuichi, R.H.R., Haridasan, M., 2007. Recovery of species richness and conservation of native Atlantic forest trees in the cacao plantations of southern Bahia in Brazil. Biodivers. Conserv. 16, 3681–3701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schroth, G., Harvey, C.A., 2007. Biodiversity conservation in cocoa production landscapes: an overview. Biodivers. Conserv. 16, 2237–2244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vaughan, C., Ramíez, O., Herrera, G., Guries, R., 2007. Spatial ecology and conservation of two sloth species in a cacao landscape in Limón, Costa Rica. Biodivers. Conserv. 16, 2293–2310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wetzel, R.M., Avila-Pires, F.D., 1980. Identification and distribution of the recent slots of Brazil (Edentata). Rev. Bras. Biol. 40, 831–836.Google Scholar
  53. Williams-Guillén, K., McCann, C., Sanchez, J.C.M., Koontz, F., 2006. Resource availability and habitat use by mantled howling monkeys in Nicaraguan coffee plantation: can agroforests serve as core habitat for a forest mammal? Anim. Conserv. 9, 331–338.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camila Righetto Cassano
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maria Cecília Martins Kierulff
    • 3
  • Adriano G. Chiarello
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto de Estudos Socioambientais do Sul da BahiaIESBIlhéusBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-graduação em ZoologiaUniversidade Estadual de Santa CruzIlhéusBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto Pri-Matas para a Conservação da BiodiversidadeBelo HorizonteBrazil
  4. 4.Programa de Pós-graduação em Zoologia de VertebradosPontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais - PUC-MGBelo HorizonteBrazil

Personalised recommendations