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Long-term monitoring of a hyacinth macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus (Psittacidae) roost in the Pantanal, Brazil

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The hyacinth macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus is the world’s largest parrot species and is currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. This species commonly flocks in collective roost sites. We monitored a group of hyacinth macaws that has used a single roost site on a ranch with traditional, extensive cattle management in the Pantanal, Brazil, for over 50 yr. We analyzed 15 yr of monitoring data on the use of this roost site. We used simultaneous counts (n = 37), where individuals flying to the roost site were counted, and also counted pairs in nests. The results indicate that in 2001 there were 234 (mean no. of ind.; 95% CI = 55) macaws in the roost; 15 yr later 708 (95% CI = 142) were registered. The highest number of macaws registered was in the years of 2013 and 2015, when >1000 ind. were observed at the ranch. The model showed an increase rate of 26 ind. yr-1 over the 15 yr monitoring period. Temporal and seasonal fluctuations were observed, with the highest number of macaws recorded during rainy and non-breeding seasons. We discuss these results with an emphasis on the type of ranch management that favors the maintenance of hyacinth macaw food resources. The type of traditional cattle management used at the study site benefits both cattle production and macaw conservation due to positive interactions between cattle feeding habits and landscape-level management practices that preserve macaw habitat.
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ENDANGERED SPECIES RESEARCH
Endang Species Res
Vol. 39: 25– 34, 2019
https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00954 Published May 23
1. INTRODUCTION
Historically, high levels of endemism, high bio -
diversity, and restricted distribution of species, at
both the biome and niche scale, have been used
to define priority areas for wildlife conservation
(Vane-Wright et al. 1991, Kerr 1997, Watson et al.
2014). In addition to these parameters, refuges
(defined as an ‘area of land dedicated to the pro-
tection and maintenance of biological diversity, and
of natural and associated cultural resources, and
managed through legal or other effective means’
by Chape et al. 2003, p. 2) have been established
to protect a vulnerable or threatened population
from extinction. However, the effectiveness of
these refuges in the conservation of minimum-
viable populations may be questionable because,
over time, they undergo degradation within and
© The authors 2019. Open Access under Creative Commons by
Attribution Licence. Use, distribution and reproduction are un -
restricted. Authors and original publication must be credited.
Publisher: Inter-Research · www.int-res.com
*Corresponding author: mceciliabt@gmail.com
Long-term monitoring of a hyacinth macaw
Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus (Psittacidae)
roost in the Pantanal, Brazil
Pedro Scherer-Neto1, Neiva Maria Robaldo Guedes2, 3,
Maria Cecília Barbosa Toledo4,*
1Natural History Museum Capão da Imbuia, Rua Benedito Conceição 407, Curitiba-PR, 82810-150, Brazil
2Environment and Regional Development Postgraduate Program, Anhanguera-Uniderp University, Campo Grande-MS,
79003-010, Brazil
3Hyacinth Macaw Institute, Campo Grande-MS, 79051-660, Brazil
4Bioscience Institute, University of Taubaté, Av. Tiradentes 500, Taubaté-SP, 12030-180, Brazil
ABSTRACT: The hyacinth macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus is the world’s largest parrot spe-
cies and is currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. This species commonly flocks in collective
roost sites. We monitored a group of hyacinth macaws that has used a single roost site on a ranch
with traditional, extensive cattle management in the Pantanal, Brazil, for over 50 yr. We analyzed
15 yr of monitoring data on the use of this roost site. We used simultaneous counts (n = 37), where
individuals flying to the roost site were counted, and also counted pairs in nests. The results indi-
cate that in 2001 there were 234 (mean no. of ind.; 95% CI = 55) macaws in the roost; 15 yr later
708 (95% CI = 142) were registered. The highest number of macaws registered was in the years
of 2013 and 2015, when >1000 ind. were observed at the ranch. The model showed an increase
rate of 26 ind. yr−1 over the 15 yr monitoring period. Temporal and seasonal fluctuations were ob -
served, with the highest number of macaws recorded during rainy and non-breeding seasons. We
discuss these results with an emphasis on the type of ranch management that favors the mainte-
nance of hyacinth macaw food resources. The type of traditional cattle management used at the
study site benefits both cattle production and macaw conservation due to positive interactions
between cattle feeding habits and landscape-level management practices that preserve macaw
habitat.
KEY WORDS: Long-term monitoring · Hyacinth macaw · Refuge habitat · Seasonal fluctuation ·
Roost site
O
PEN
PEN
A
CCESS
CCESS
Endang Species Res 39: 25– 34, 2019
26
outside of the conservation area, mainly due to the
effects of fragmentation, fire, soil degradation, and
human encroachment (Scherer-Neto & Toledo 2007,
Taylor et al. 2012, Geldmann et al. 2013). As a
result, the remaining populations may experience
local extinction (Barlow & Peres 2004, Recher et al.
2009). In regions where events that result in habitat
degradation (such as fires) occur frequently, local
populations seek out safe areas that provide a reli-
able supply of food and breeding sites (Robinson et
al. 2014).
Gregarious behavior in birds leads to increased
protection against predators and more efficient food
acquisition (Ward & Zahavi 1973, Beauchamp 1999).
According to Munshi-South & Wilkinson (2006), gre-
garious behavior and foraging may lead to a longer
life span, especially for species that aggregate in
roosts (Beauchamp 1999). Some juvenile and non-
breeding Psittacidae continue to use communal
roosts during the non-breeding season. During the
breeding season, breeding pairs of some species may
remain in cavity nests in trees and ravines, e.g. Cape
parrots Poicephalus robustus in South Africa (Wirm-
inghaus et al. 2000), red-tailed parrots Amazona
brasiliensis (Cougill & Marsden 2004) and Lear’s
macaw Anodorhyncus leari in Brazil (Pacífico et al.
2014), and red-lored parrot Amazona autumnalis in
Ecuador (Berg & Angel 2006). This behavior makes it
possible to monitor groups that are representative for
the whole population, which is especially important
for endangered species. Our assumption is that, in
regions where factors affecting habitat degradation,
such as fire, agriculture/livestock, and human occu-
pation are intense, habitual overnight roosts can
become important refuges for endangered bird spe-
cies, and consequently such roosts become important
monitoring areas for these species.
The hyacinth macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthi-
nus is the largest flying parrot species in the world,
measuring up to 1 m of wingspan, with an average
weight of 1300 g (Forshaw 1978, Sick 1997, Guedes
2009). Hyacinth macaws are a gregarious species
generally found in pairs, families, or groups that
vary from 3 to 100s of individuals, mainly in feeding
and roost sites, and hyacinth macaws exhibit strong
nesting, feeding, and roost-site fidelity (Guedes &
Harper 1995, Guedes 2009, Guedes & Candisani
2011). Because of its characteristics and behavior,
the hyacinth macaw is a charismatic and iconic spe-
cies for biodiversity conservation (Guedes & Candis-
ani 2011). It has a wide geographic distribution, and
over 95% of the population occurs in Brazil. The
population is distributed in 3 non-contiguous areas:
(1) the Pantanal: Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato
Grosso (see Fig. 1); (2) the northeastern region:
Maranhão, Bahia, Piauí, Goiás, and Tocantins; (3)
the Amazon region, in the states of Pará and Amapá
(Guedes et al. 2008, Presti et al. 2015). Recently, this
species has also been reported in the state of Ama-
zonas (Barreiros & Gomes 2010). Despite their wide
distribution, Guedes et al. (2008) estimated the total
wild population of hyacinth macaws at approxi-
mately 6500 individuals.
Due to large-scale captures for the wildlife trade —
attractive for size, color and tolerance to human pres-
ence —and habitat degradation, including deforesta-
tion and fragmentation, the hyacinth macaw was
included in the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES) Appendices I and II,
and has been listed as Vulnerable by the Interna-
tional Union for the Conservation of Nature since
1988 (IUCN 2014). In the last 25 years, there has been
a significant increase in scientific knowledge about
the genetics, nests, eggs, and chick management of
this species, as a result of studies carried out by the
Hyacinth Macaw Institute (Guedes & Harper 1995,
Faria et al. 2008, Allgayer et al. 2009, Guedes & Can-
disani 2011, Marchesi et al. 2015, Presti et al. 2015).
However, little is known about population fluctua-
tions of hyacinth macaws and dynamics of the use of
overnight roosts.
In July 1999, the World Wildlife Fund of Brazil
(WWF-Brazil) carried out a workshop in the State of
Mato Grosso, focused exclusively on hyacinth macaw
conservation strategies, which included a visit to the
São Francisco do Perigara ranch located in the Barão
de Melgaço sub-region, in the northern Pantanal,
Brazil. This ranch was chosen because it is the site of
a traditional roost which has been used by hyacinth
macaws for over 50 yr, and because of the abundance
of the species in the area. According to censuses
performed by the Hyacinth Macaw Institute, approx-
imately 15% of the total population and 20% of the
Pantanal population frequents the ranch (Guedes &
Candisani 2011). The presence of macaws at the
ranch, and the finding by specialists that it could be
one of the largest roost sites ever recorded, gave rise
to the present research. Our hypothesis was that sus-
tainable ranch management, which ensures food avail-
ability and protection against anthropogenic impacts,
can result in an increase in the number of hyacinth
macaws. Therefore, we aimed to quantify and study
temporal fluctuations and seasonal changes through
long-term monitoring of the number of hyacinth
macaws, in order to understand the dynamics of
roost-site use by the species.
Scherer-Neto et al.: Hyacinth macaw monitoring in the Pantanal
2. MATERIALS AND METHODS
2.1. Study area
The study was carried out on the São Francisco do
Perigara ranch, located in the Barão de Melgaço
sub-region, Pantanal wetland, Mato Grosso, Brazil
(16° 54’ 16’’S, 56° 15’ 33’’W) (Fig. 1). The property
covers 289.95 km2and the main economic activity is
traditional, extensive cattle ranching.
Average cumulative rainfall in the area ranges from
1000 to 1500 mm. during the rainy season (November−
April), and is less than 200 mm during the dry season
(May−October). The average temperature in the
region ranges from 21°C in the coldest month (July)
to 29°C in the hottest month (January) (Alvares et al.
2013). During the rainy season, approximately one-
third of the ranch is flooded, and thus inaccessible,
due to overflow from the São Lourenço River. The
other two-thirds of the ranch, including the ranch
facilities area, is located on higher ground unaffected
by flooding.
The vegetation in this region consists predominantly
of savanna with dense, tall woodland (cerradão) and ri-
parian forests along the Piquiri, São Lourenço, and
Cuiabá rivers (Allem & Valls 1987). The ranch landscape
consists of a mosaic of forests and associated environ-
ments containing several types of palm trees, especially
the acuri palm Scheelea phalerata and the bocaiuva
palm Acrocomia aculeata, as well as natural grasslands
in the ‘Guatós indigenous’ area, cultivated pastures
con sisting of exotic species, including signal grass
Brachiaria decumbens, and natural grasslands de-
graded by human land use. The latter 2 landscape types
occupy less than 2 % of the ranch area. In sandy areas,
there are some mono-specific vegetation types, pre-
dominantly consisting of canjiqueira Byrsonima orbyg-
niana. The floodplain area is densely vegetated, and in-
cludes cambará Vochysia divergens and acuri and
bocaiuva palm trees. In summary, nearly 32% of the
study area consists of forests (cerradão, seasonal forest,
and gallery forest), 35% of the area consists of open sa-
vanna, and the remaining area consists of open grass-
lands (wet and dry) and watercourses (Silva et al. 2000).
27
Fig. 1. São Francisco do Peri-
gara ranch, located in the
southeast of the State of Mato
Grosso, Brazil. (Lower right)
São Francisco do Perigara
ranch area, in the Pantanal,
Barão de Melgaço sub-region
(shaded areas: tree cover/
wooded areas). Areas 1, 2, and
3 are hyacinth macaw roosting
sites, and area 1 was the most
commonly used by the ma -
caws. Wide arrows: directions
from which the macaws came
to the roosting site, with the
most common directions indi-
cated by numbers 4, 5, 6, and
7; thin arrows: macaws’ move-
ments before they settled at
the roosting site for the night.
Asterisks: point-count stations
from which the observers car-
ried out the macaw counts.
The photo (lower left) shows
the hyacinth macaws feeding
on fruits of bocaiuva and acuri
palm trees consumed and par-
tially digested by cattle. Photo
by Luciano Candisani
Endang Species Res 39: 25– 34, 2019
28
2.2. Roost site
The area around the ranch buildings consists
mainly of open pastures, with large individual trees
and forest fragments containing bocaiuva palm trees
and other fast-growing plants recovering from past
deforestation (Fig. 1). There are 2 areas in this land-
scape that serve as roost sites for hyacinth macaws:
(1) an irregularly shaped forest fragment, which is a
remnant consisting of 90% bocaiuva palm trees
(Fig. 1, Area 1) with additional trees such as mangoes
Mangifera indica, Indian almond Terminalia cat-
appa, baru Dipteryx alata, and Brazilian copal
Hymenaea courbaril. Over the years, this site has
changed structurally as hyacinth macaws have
destroyed the sprouts and leaves of the palm trees
while roosting in the trees overnight and using them
during the day to rest and eat. As the palm trees died,
the macaws moved to other sites such as isolated
trees or groups of bocaiuva palm near the ranch
buildings. (2) An area with dozens of ‘bocaiuva’ palm
trees found within 5 m of the farmhouse, which hya -
cinth macaws and other parrot species use to roost
(Fig. 1, Area 2).
2.3. Method for estimating the number of
hyacinth macaws
We developed survey methods based on the spe-
cies’ habit of flocking to collective roost sites. In the
late afternoon, the macaws fly either in pairs or in
groups from different areas of the ranch to a previ-
ously chosen place (Fig. 1). We counted hyacinth
macaws at the roost site over a long period to monitor
the number of hyacinth macaws, and to balance
long-term temporal changes with seasonal fluctua-
tions. Counts started in 2001 and continued until
2015, totaling 37 field visits, 18 of which were per-
formed in the dry season and 19 in the rainy season.
There were 19 visits in the breeding season (August−
January) and 17 visits in the non-breeding season
(February−July). Each visit had an overall duration of
3 d: 1 d to search for nesting pairs, and 2 d to visit the
re treat areas and conduct 3 surveys at the roost dur-
ing the afternoon. The roost surveys started at 16:00 h
and ended shortly after dusk (approximately 19:30 h).
Before the counts, we carried out a preliminary
count of hyacinth macaws that remained in wooded
places near the ranch during the day. Once the num-
ber of hyacinth macaws near the ranch buildings was
counted, a pair of observers went to each count sta-
tion (n = 3). Each observer team was equipped with
binoculars (Nikon Action 8×40 mm), spotting scopes
(Vollo VL-237), and chronometers. We selected the
locations of point-count stations during the first year
of sampling: these were located 800 m from the roost
site and placed so as to reduce the bias of double-
counting (Fig. 1, Areas 2, 3 and 4). The observers
simultaneously recorded the number of individuals
(isolated or in groups) and the direction of flight.
Many hyacinth macaws engage in short flights
before perching in their chosen position at the roost.
These short flights or movements (Fig. 1, thin arrows)
were also recorded in terms of the number of individ-
uals and direction of flight along trees (see Fig. 1,
Areas: 1, 2, 3 and 4). The data were collected and
standardized, taking into account entries and exits in
order to avoid double-counting. For example, if 12
macaws entered the roost and 2 subsequently exited,
the total number of macaws in the roost was counted
as 10.
Because the macaws tended to follow the cattle,
some individuals remained in areas that were more
distant from the roost. For this reason, we also con-
ducted counts in different areas of the ranch, such as
retreat spots away from the area surrounding the
ranch buildings, and pastures with mineral salt
troughs, where cattle gathered, attracting hyacinth
macaws to feed (Fig. 1, lower left). We conducted
direct counts of individual hyacinth macaws at 4 of
these retreat spots. We also counted macaw pairs
that remained in nests, although the known number
of nests was small (see Table 1).
At the end of each sampling period 3 values were
obtained: (1) the mean number of individuals at the
roost site registered by the team at the roost site over
3 d, (2) the total number of individuals in areas away
from the roost (retreat spots with mineral/salt troughs),
and (3) the number of macaw couples in the nests.
Thus, the number of macaws on the ranch (‘total
number’) was computed as the number of macaws in
the roost + the number of macaws in retreat areas +
the number of macaws in nests.
2.4. Data analysis
Results are reported as mean ± 95 % confidence
intervals (CI) for samples with n < 30. According to
the results of the D’Agostino test for normality, we
used a t-test, Mann-Whitney U-test, and Kruskal-
Wallis (KW) H-test for small sample sizes (n < 5), fol-
lowing Zwillinger & Kokoska (1999). The statistical
tests were used to compare data from the breeding
season (August− January) and non-breeding season
Scherer-Neto et al.: Hyacinth macaw monitoring in the Pantanal
(February−July), as well as the dry (May−October)
and rainy (November−March) seasons. All statistical
analyses were conducted using GraphPad Prism v.7
software (GraphPad Software Inc.).
Precipitation is the environmental variable show-
ing the strongest seasonality in the study region. To
evaluate the effect of precipitation on the number of
hyacinth macaws, we used data from a pluviometer
installed at the ranch in 2002. We analyzed the rela-
tionship between the number of hyacinth macaws at
the roost during each visit and the monthly mean
pre cipitation using the Pearson linear correlation
method.
To analyze trends regarding the number of
hyacinth macaws during the study period, we used a
linear regression model. The regression was con-
ducted using the mean total number of individuals
from years with >2 visits. A linear regression model
was run using total numbers obtained in the months
in which the ranch was most frequently visited, April
(n = 7 visits) and September (n = 6 visits), and these
months represent breeding and non-breeding peri-
ods, and rainy and dry seasons. We used the ‘Trends
& Indices for Monitoring data’ software package
(TRIM version 3.53, Pannekoek & Van Strien 2001) to
calculate trends over time in the studied macaw
group.
3. RESULTS
3.1. Hyacinth macaw surveys
Over the 15 yr of surveys on the ranch, the highest
total numbers of hyacinth macaws were obtained in
June 2013 and April 2015 (1042 and 1014 ind.,
respectively). The annual mean number of hyacinth
macaws at the roost site varied significantly (KW-
test, H= 30.74; p < 0.01), and significant differences
existed between 2007 and 2013 (diff. = −26.33 [62%];
p < 0.05), and 2007 and 2015 (diff. = −29.5 [67%]; p <
0.05) (Table 1).
Based on roost counts in the months with >1 visit,
we found that the lowest mean number of individuals
at the hyacinth macaw roost site was recorded in
August (n =3, 116.2 ± 61.3) and the highest in April
(n =7; 357.4 ± 185.2). However, variations in the
number of macaws between months were not signif-
icant (H = 12.15; p > 0.05).
Over the 15 yr interval, the number of hyacinth
macaws at the ranch showed an increasing trend.
The model revealed that the total number of hyacinth
macaws at the ranch increased by approximately
37 ± 7 (r2= 0.67; F(1,12) = 24.59; p < 0.0001; 95% CI =
12.5 − 44.7), and the mean number of macaws at the
roost site (Fig. 2, solid line) increased by approxi-
mately 28 ind. yr−1 (r2= 0.55; F(1,12) = 15.09; p < 0.001;
slope = 28.65 ± 7.6; 95% CI = 21.1 − 54.3). According
to TRIM analysis the increase was 24 ind. yr−1 (F(1, 24) =
0.73; p < 0.05), which means a moderate increase in
the total numbers of macaws during the studied
period.
The model generated from surveys conducted in
April (n =7) and September (n =6), using the mean
number of individuals at the roost site (Fig. 2, dashed
and dotted lines), revealed an increase in the number
of hyacinth macaws over time. The number of
hyacinth macaws recorded in April increased by 27 ±
10 ind. (r2= 0.62; F(1,5) = 8.18; p < 0.05; slope = 26.9 ±
9.8) and the number of hyacinth macaws recorded in
September increased by 37 ± 11 individuals over the
same period (r2= 0.66; F(1,5) = 9.74; p < 0.05; slope =
37.1 ± 11.9).
3.2. Temporal and seasonal fluctuations
Rainfall data showed that drier months to be May
to August, with between 0 and 20 mm precipitation,
and the wetter months to be November to April, with
precipitation between 80 and 400 mm (Table 1). The
number of hyacinth macaws was different (t-test, t=
2.063; p < 0.05) between the rainy season (average
rainfall in rainy months = 191.7 mm; mean number of
hyacinth macaws = 354.4) and the dry season (aver-
age rainfall in dry months = 36.6 mm; mean number
29
2000 2005 2010 2015
Years
Tota l
April
September
800
600
400
200
0
Number of individuals
Fig. 2. Regression models between the number (mean ± SD)
of hyacinth macaws on the São Francisco do Perigara ranch
and the sampling years, from 2001 to 2015. The solid line
shows the distribution of the mean number of macaws at the
roost site by year. The dashed and dotted lines show the
regression model in April and September, respectively
of hyacinth macaws = 254.3). This result was corrob-
orated by the comparison between the most surveyed
months, i.e. April (rainy) and September (dry) (U =
6.0; p < 0.05). Different patterns in seasonal varia-
tions were found in each year. In 2008, 2011, and
2015 (p < 0.05) the greatest numbers of macaws were
counted during the dry period, when mean monthly
rainfall was below 100 mm.
Precipitation during the study period was signifi-
cantly and negatively correlated with the number of
individual macaws in the roost (r = 0.64; p < 0.05;
R2= 0.41). Breeding commences during the dry pe-
riod (August). There were significantly more macaws
on the ranch during the non-breeding season (mean
= 319.7 ± 105.7) than in the breeding (mean = 236.9 ±
136.6) season (U = 80; p < 0.05; Fig. 3).
Endang Species Res 39: 25– 34, 2019
30
Year Month Mean precipitation (mm) No. of ind. in the roost Retreat Individuals Total
Annual Monthly Total Annual mean ± 95% CI areas (nest)
2001 Jan 283 234 ± 55 40 323
Apr 222 93 315
Aug 198 68 266
Nov 176 59 235
2002 Sep 1254 90.0 120 33 153
2003 Jan 1382 355 189 206 ± 63 18 207
Apr 89 266 70 336
Aug 0 165 109 2(1) 276
2004 Feb 1277.5 355 263 257 ± 59 0a263
Jun 0 303 80 383
Nov 135 206 78 2 286
2005bFeb 1195.5 70 420 384 ± 61 0a12(6) 432
Apr 66 348 32 380
2006 Apr 1587.5 70.5 337 221 ± 197 42 379
Sep 134 106 168 274
2007 Jun 1364 0 136 133 ± 67c72 2(1) 204
Sep 50 76 68 144
Nov 176 187 6a22(11) 215
2008 Mar 1129 162 244 272 ± 47 112 2 358
Jul 0 300 22 322
Decd52 14(7)
2009 May 1107 38 249 221 ± 47 48 297
Sep 28 193 58 6(3) 257
2010bJan 755 147 400 364 ± 61 54 24(12) 478
Jun 0 328 123 451
2011 Jan 1290 395 315 245 ± 204 103 24(12) 442
Apr 80 369 150 519
Aug 0 53 380 40(20) 473
2012 Jan 1277 134 334 391 ± 60 107 2(1) 443
Jun 37 424 208 632
Sep 66 417 122 539
2013 Apr 977 20 371 572 ± 228c114 4(2) 489
Jun 0 745 298 1043
Dec 130 600 0a18(9) 618
2014 Jun 1732 18 722 534 ± 394 120 4(2) 846
Sep 56 346 65 411
Decd154 14(7)
2015 Apr 1120 110 776 708 ± 142c234 4(2) 1014
Nov 168 640 120 12(6) 772
aFlood area where it was not possible to conduct the surveys. bInstallation of artificial nests by the Arara Azul Institute (see
Guedes & Silva 2010). cSignificant differences (KW-test, H= 26.3; p = 0.015) between 2007 and 2013 (Dunn’s test = –28.33)
and 2007 and 2013 (Dunn’s test = –29.55). dSurveys conducted only of nests installed by the Arara Azul Institute (Guedes
et al. 2014)
Table 1. Number of hyacinth macaws registered in roost, retreat areas, and nests during the surveys on the São Francisco do
Perigara ranch, Pantanal wetland, Mato Grosso, Brazil, from 2001 to 2015, based on total counts. Individuals (no. of nests in
parentheses) refers to active nest with eggs, or chicks, or hyacinth macaw couples defending cavities. −: only one value,
no mean available
Scherer-Neto et al.: Hyacinth macaw monitoring in the Pantanal
4. DISCUSSION
4.1. Hyacinth macaw population at the
São Francisco do Perigara ranch
According to our results, the total number of
hyacinth macaws recorded on the São Francisco do
Perigara ranch, in the Barão do Melgaço sub-region
of the Pantanal wetland, was approximately 1000 in
2013 and 2015. This corresponds to 15% of the global
population of hyacinth macaws (estimated at 6500
ind.; Guedes et al. 2008) and 20% of the Pantanal
population (5000 ind.; Instituto Arara Azul 2017).
This is the largest concentration of hyacinth macaws
observed across the species’ range, and the number
of macaws on the ranch increased during the 15 yr of
monitoring. Our findings at this site show an encour-
aging and positive trend, unlike that found for many
other psittacines. For example, the population of yel-
low-naped parrots Amazona auropalliata has de -
clined by nearly 50% since 1980 because many of
these birds are caught illegally for the pet trade
(Dahlin et al. 2018). Marsden & Royle (2015) carried
out a survey of density and abundance changes
among 356 parrot species. Results showed that pro-
tected areas and habitat degradation, mainly conver-
sions from primary forest to anthropogenic habitat,
were positively and negatively associated, respec-
tively, with changes in abundance and density of par-
rots. Studies carried out in different parts of the world
show that parrot populations have declined rapidly,
mainly due to a lack of protected habitat (IUCN 2014,
Birdlife 2015).
In terms of annual variation, the results indicate
that during periods of heavy rain, macaws need to
forage more broadly due to habitat flooding. Accord-
ing to Guedes (2009), during flooding in the Pan-
tanal, there is a decrease in feeding areas for
hyacinth macaws, which forage on the ground,
forcing them to seek other sites in non-flooded areas
on higher ground. This pattern of habitat use is fur-
ther supported by the correlation between the num-
ber of individuals at the roost and precipitation data,
especially during the drier years 2010−2013, during
which we recorded greater numbers of hyacinth
macaws. Guedes & Harper (1995) observed the same
trend when monitoring a small roost in the southern
Pantanal.
The hyacinth macaw breeding season occurs pre-
dominantly between the months of August and Janu-
ary, although breeding may occur earlier or later in
some years (Guedes 2009). Our results indicate that
months with lower hyacinth macaw numbers coin-
cided with the breeding season. However, there
were few natural active nests in the study area (i.e.
nests containing eggs and/or chicks), which could
explain the variations observed within and among
years. Our results indicate that hyacinth macaws can
breed in areas that are outside the limits of the ranch.
A study performed using radio telemetry showed
that a juvenile macaw left the nest located 50 km
away from the study area and flew to the Perigara
roost along with other 90 macaws (Antas et al. 2010).
The low number of active nests can likely be
explained by scarcity of manduvi trees with suitable
nesting cavities, which are used by hyacinth macaws
for breeding, and where 95% of their nests are found
(Guedes 1993, Pinho & Nogueira 2003). Before the
current owner acquired the ranch, the area was sub-
ject to fire and selective logging of trees. Currently,
there are few manduvi trees in the area with natural
cavities, and most of the available cavities are
quickly occupied during the breeding season. The
success of artificial nests corroborates our assump-
tion that availability of suitable nest cavities has
become a limiting factor for hyacinth macaw breed-
ing in the study area (Guedes 1993, Martin et al.
2004, Aitken & Martin 2008).
Our assumption was that the study area was pre-
dominantly used for feeding. According to Beau -
champ (1999) roosting aggregations can increase
food acquisition efficiency. This idea was further sup-
ported when the vegetation characteristics of areas
surrounding the ranch buildings were observed.
Acuri and bocaiuva palm trees are the most common
tree species in the study area. Both species make up
the hyacinth macaw’s diet in the Pantanal (Guedes &
Harper 1995). These tree species are characterized as
pioneer trees from secondary succession, and benefit
31
Non-breeding
0
Breeding
200
400
600
800
1000
Number of individuals
Fig. 3. Mean and 95% CI of the number of hyacinth macaws
in the roost during the non-breeding and breeding seasons
on the São Francisco do Perigara ranch, Brazil
Endang Species Res 39: 25– 34, 2019
32
from fire and degradation (Bicalho et al. 2016), which
stimulate their growth and fruit production. The
fruits of acuri and bocaiuva palm trees are consumed
and digested by cattle, facilitating hyacinth macaw
feeding (Pott & Pott 1994, Guedes & Harper 1995,
Bicalho et al. 2016).
4.2. Study area management and
hyacinth macaw conservation
The ranch’s current management approach, with a
very large area devoted to vegetation recovery, has
helped to maintain food resources for the hyacinth
macaws, which have used the property as a tradi-
tional feeding and roost site. In addition, with the
support of Embrapa Pantanal and the Brazilian Asso-
ciation of Organic Cattle Ranching (ABPO), the
ranch has implemented traditional extensive cattle
management with a rotational grazing system in sev-
eral paddocks. During the rainy season, the cattle are
concentrated in a non-flooded, fenced area that
favors the concentration of partially digested and
excreted palm nuts that macaws feed on. As a result,
the macaws gather during the flood season, following
the cattle (Guedes 1993, Yamashita 1997). Hence, the
availability of food resources contributes to an
increase in the number of hyacinth macaws, and the
cattle management dynamic helps to explain the
variation observed between dry and rainy periods.
Safety was likely another important factor for this
choice of roost site. The hyacinth macaws were not
disturbed on the ranch because there were few
employees and limited activity. There were no free-
ranging pets such as cats and dogs, which could dis-
turb the macaws when they land to feed on nuts. In
the Pantanal, the association between wildlife con-
servation and cattle ranching is evident. Ranches
play a key role in biodiversity conservation by keep-
ing areas safe from illegal hunters. Native species
benefit from this protection, and many ranches have
become refuges for large wildlife populations, in
many cases becoming more effective than some state
or federal protected areas (Silva & Strahl 1991, Hoo -
gesteijn & Hoogesteijn 2010). For over 50 yr, the São
Francisco do Perigara ranch has been protected from
forest fires and deforestation, thus helping to main-
tain resources for hyacinth macaws, such as food and
roost sites. These resources are important factors in
preserving the macaws in the region.
It is important to emphasize that the São Francisco
do Perigara ranch has a management philosophy that
encourages the macaws to live in relative harmony
with cattle ranching, and the macaw population
appears to be growing, either through reproduction,
immigration, or a combination of both. The tradi-
tional management practiced on the ranch takes into
account the care and conservation of important areas
for wild fauna (for instance, the ranch includes a
fenced forest fragment that has served as a roost site
for hyacinth macaws for over half a century), the pro-
tection of specific tree species, as well as the rota-
tional grazing system over several paddocks. This
strategy is consistent with the natural pasture cycle
due to the rainy and dry seasons, and provides a
refuge habitat for the hyacinth macaws and other
Pantanal fauna species, which are also threatened
with extinction, such as the spotted jaguar Panthera
onca and the maned wolf Chrysocyon brachyurus.
Acknowledgements. Special thanks to Maria Bernadete
Ribas Lange for her immediate support for this research
through the WWF Brasil Pantanal program; to Francisco
Barretto, for support during the beginning of the study, and
to the sisters Ana Maria Barros and Maria Ignez Marcondes
Barreto, owners of the ranch, for their encouragement and
support for the macaw surveys; to several employees, espe-
cially to ‘Pixico’ − Gonçalo Rodrigues da Silva. We thank the
different teams who participated in each visit, including
Eduardo Carrano, Cassiano Fadel Ribas, Yara Melo Barros,
Carlos Bianchi, Arthur Bispo de Oliveira, Carolina Coelho
Scherer, Antenor Silva Júnior, André Pelanda, Raphael F.
Santos, Eduardo Patrial, Louri Klemann Júnior, Tiago
Venâncio, Carlos Pedroso, Mariângela Allgayer, Marcelo
Allgayer, Mathias Dislich, Fabiane G. Schimidt, Valdi P.
Gonçalves, Eduardo B. Cunha, Leverci Silveira Filho,
Luciana Chyio, Ildo Ritter de Oliveira, Jonas Kilp, Patrick I.
Pina, Leonel Andermann, Tony Bichinsky, Adriano Travas-
sos, Gledson Bianconi, Bruno H. Carvalho, Romulo Cícero
Silva and Solange Latenek. We appreciate the support and
presence of Anna Croukamp (Parque das Aves). We also
thank Dr. Luciano Sabóia and the Hyacinth Macaw Institute,
who provided the installation of artificial nests for the
hyacinth macaws on the São Francisco ranch. The ITA
thanks Carlos Cézar Corrêa, Grace Ferreira da Silva, Edson
Diniz Lino Pereira, Fernanda Fontoura, Luciana Ferreira,
Cynthia Mazzi and Fundação Toyota. We thank Leonie
Seabrook, PhD, for editing a draft of this manuscript. We
appreciate reviews of this paper by Thomas H. White Jr.,
PhD, of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Puerto Rican Par-
rot Recovery Program, Paul R. Reillo, PhD, of the Rare Spe-
cies Conservatory Foundation and Walfrido M. Tomas, PhD,
Embrapa Pantanal.
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Submitted: November 27, 2017; Accepted: February 28, 2019
Proofs received from author(s): April 30, 2019
... Its patchy distribution in remote and inaccessible habitats, high daily and seasonal mobility, and longevity have impeded research aimed at understanding its conservation status and needs. Its diet ties it to a number of palm species; it depends heavily on Sterculia apetala trees for nest sites, and it shows a clear preference for open wooded, riparian and forest-edge habitats, often near pastures (Guedes, 2004;Pinho & Nogueira, 2003;Scherer-Neto et al., 2019;da Silva et al., 2019;Tella et al., 2020;Yamashita, 1997), but the precise factors governing its responses to land use change, and how these might differ in different parts of its huge range, are unknown (BirdLife International, 2019). Nevertheless, owing to population increases in the Pantanal (e.g. ...
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Species distribution models have been used to assist decision-making in many different aspects of conservation, restoration, and environmental management. However, to apply species distribution models effectively, we need to discriminate between suitable and unsuitable environments and the models need to be developed at fine scales (i.e. covering small areas at a fine resolution). These characteristics allow more precise decision-making for heterogeneous environments in smaller areas, such as biomes. We also need to understand the potential limiting factors in relation to these models better, including the effects of sample bias in species occurrence records and the potential mismatch between the scale at which the models were built and the scale at which the predictor variables interact with species occurrence. Here we evaluate the effects of two methods used to reduce bias (geographic vs. environmental filters) and three predictor variable types (climactic, local and biotic) on model predictions. We explore these issues for the hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), a globally vulnerable species in the Pantanal biome of central South America. We consider broad-scale variables, local-scale habitat associations, and the interactions of the macaw with two plant species that provide its food and nesting location. Our results show that using broad-scale climate variables for local-scale models (i.e., models with a fine resolution with a small extent) can generate predictive distribution models that underpredict suitability. Using local and biotic variables generates more accurate models with predictions consistent with the known distribution of the bird species. Although not commonly used, local-scale variables strongly affect model performance by increasing accuracy, reducing omission error, and leading to more conservative predictions. On the other hand, these methods lead to variable results in relation to bias reduction, with their efficiency depending on the amount of sampling bias in the occurrence records. In conclusion, local variables and the method of bias reduction play an important role in species distribution models. Fine resolution models constructed at the local scale for small areas show the greatest skill in predicting species distribution.
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Understanding the intraspecific genetic composition of populations in different geographic locations is important for the conservation of species. If genetic variability is structured, conservation strategies should seek to preserve the diversity of units. Also, origin of individuals can be determined, which is important for guiding actions against animal trafficking. The hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) is located in allopatric regions, vulnerable to extinction and suffering animal trafficking pressure. Therefore, we characterized its population genetic structure based on 10 microsatellites from 98 individuals and 2123bp of mitochondrial sequence (ND5, cytochrome b, and ND2) from 80 individuals. Moderate to high levels of differentiation were observed among 3 geographic regions of Brazil: the north/northeast of the country, the north Pantanal, and the south Pantanal. Differentiation between the 2 regions within the Pantanal was not expected, as they are relatively close and there is no known barrier to macaw movement between these regions. These genetically differentiated groups were estimated to have diverged 16000 to 42000 years ago. The low genetic variability observed seems not to be the result of past bottlenecks, although a star-shaped haplotype network and the mismatch distribution suggest that there was recent demographic expansion in the north and northeast. Environmental changes in the Holocene could have caused this expansion. Given the genetic structure observed, the most probable regions of origin of 24 confiscated individuals were identified. Thus, these data helped to trace illegal traffic routes and identify natural populations that are being illegally harvested. © The American Genetic Association 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
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Originally conceived to conserve iconic landscapes and wildlife, protected areas are now expected to achieve an increasingly diverse set of conservation, social and economic objectives. The amount of land and sea designated as formally protected has markedly increased over the past century, but there is still a major shortfall in political commitments to enhance the coverage and effectiveness of protected areas. Financial support for protected areas is dwarfed by the benefits that they provide, but these returns depend on effective management. A step change involving increased recognition, funding, planning and enforcement is urgently needed if protected areas are going to fulfil their potential.
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