- The Pantanal is one of the largest wetlands in the world, covering 195,000 km2 across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. It has a unique annual flooding regime with the majority of land being completely inundated during the wet season, which provides important habitat for threatened species such as jaguars (Panthera onca) and giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis). Nonetheless, basic ecological information such as species occurrence has been poorly studied. This study focused on the only federally protected areas in the Brazilian portion of Pantanal: Matogrossense National Park and Taiamã Ecological Station. An unprotected area, Fazenda Morrinhos, was also surveyed to compare the protected areas to privately owned lands. The objective of this research was to compare the species composition, richness and diversity among the three sites. We used unbaited, motion-activated cameras separated by 1 km. In total, 52 avian species, 20 mammalian species, 5 reptilian species and 1 amphibian species were detected among the three sites. Fazenda Morrinhos exhibited the highest mean species richness and Simpson’s diversity estimates (11.38 ± 1.73 SE and 0.81 ± 0.02 SE). Mammalian species richness was significantly different among sites (p<0.01) but avian species richness was not (p=0.097). The most frequently detected mammalian species were jaguars (Panthera onca) and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis). Large-bodied bird species were the most frequently observed, including cocoi heron (Ardea cocoi), great egret (Ardea alba), bare-faced curassow (Crax fasciolata), chaco chachalaca (Ortalis canicollis) and guans (Penelope spp.). The mammal communities of Taiamã Ecological Station and Matogrossense National Park were distinct from Fazenda Morrinhos. These discrepancies were likely dictated by varying degree of flooding between sites, with neighboring fazendas (cattle ranches) representing a lesser degree of flooding than the two reserves. Significantly higher richness and diversity at Fazenda Morrinhos and the distribution of habitat highlights the importance of establishing upland reserves. Wildlife managers in Brazil should consider reserve expansion to include drier, forested habitats of higher elevations to accommodate a larger number of species.
Key Words: Pantanal, Biodiversity, Brazil, Species richness, Diversity.