Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Influence of the water quality on the occurrence of the Neotropical otter (Lontra longicaudis) (Olfers, 1818) in a human-altered river basin

Lana Resende de Almeida A C and Maria João Ramos Pereira A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Bird and Mammal Evolution, Systematics and Ecology Lab, Departamento de Zoologia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Avenida Bento Gonçalves 9500, Prédio 43435, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

B Center for Environmental and Marine Studies, Universidade de Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, PT-3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal.

C Corresponding author. Email: lanaresende.bio@gmail.com

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF17020
Submitted: 1 February 2017  Accepted: 25 June 2017   Published online: 4 September 2017

Abstract

The seeming tolerance of the Neotropical otter (Lontra longicaudis) to human-altered environments does not prevent it from being under threat in several areas across its distribution range. To improve our knowledge of the tolerance of the species to increasing levels of habitat degradation, and adding ecological information, we evaluated the influence of water quality, vegetation structure, seasonality and stream flow on the occurrence of L. longicaudis. We conducted monthly samplings of non-invasive biological material in 16 points across different classes of water quality in the Sinos River Basin in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, between January and August 2015. Water quality and stream flow positively influenced the occurrence of L. longicaudis; still, the species seems to reduce its occurrence only in waters of very low quality, showing tolerance to moderate levels of eutrophication. We conclude that the Neotropical otter is tolerant to human-altered environments, but beyond a certain threshold of water-quality degradation, otter persistence is at risk. Monitoring water quality is key for the preservation of riverine ecosystems, and measures to control water pollution and eutrophication are deemed necessary to guarantee the preservation of viable Neotropical otter populations across its distribution range.

Additional keywords: anthropic environments, Brazil, conservation, freshwater, river otter.


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