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Brazilian Journal of Biology

versão impressa ISSN 1519-6984versão On-line ISSN 1678-4375


ROCHA, CFD. et al. The remnants of restinga habitats in the brazilian Atlantic Forest of Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil: habitat loss and risk of disappearance. Braz. J. Biol. [online]. 2007, vol.67, n.2, pp.263-273. ISSN 1519-6984.

"Restingas" (herbaceous/shrubby coastal sand-dune habitats) used to cover most of Rio de Janeiro State coast, and have suffered extensive degradation over the last five centuries. Using satellite images and field work, we identified the remaining restingas in the State, recording the factors that might cause their degradation. We used two mosaics of Landsat 7 scenes (spatial resolution 15 and 30 m) to map and evaluate preliminarly the remaining areas and conservation status. Each remnant area was checked in the field, degraded areas within it were mapped and subtracted from the remnants. We identified 21 restinga remnants totalling 105,285 ha. The largest and smallest restinga remnants were Jurubatiba (25,141 ha) and Itaipu (23 ha), respectively. We identified 14 causes of degradation. The most important were vegetation removal for housing developments, establishment of exotic plant species, change of original substrate, and selective removal of species of economic importance for the horticultural industry. All restingas had disturbed parts under strong pressure due to human activities. Due to intense habitat loss, and occurrence of endemic/threatened vertebrate species in restinga habitats, we strongly indicate the implementation of new conservation units to protect these fragile remnants. This habitat is steadily decreasing and most remnants lack legal protection. Therefore, under the current human pressure most of this unique habitat is likely to be lost from the State within the next few years.

Palavras-chave : landscape ecology; conservation; restinga remnants; habitat disturbances; extinction.

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