Severe population decline of marsh deer, Blastocerus dichotomus (Cetartiodactyla: Cervidae), a threatened species, caused by flooding related to a hydroelectric power plant

Balancing power production and environmental conservation can be problematic. The objective of this study was to investigate the abundance of marsh deer in the Paraná River Basin, above the Sergio Motta (Porto Primavera) Dam, before and after the impact of the dam closure. A fixed-wing, flat window aircraft was used to survey study transects. Observations were recorded based on the distance sampling line transect method, assuming that the detection probability decreases with increased distance. The abundance of marsh deer in the survey region prior to flooding was estimated to be 974 individuals (CV = 0.23). The overall abundance dropped from 974 to 444 (CV = 0.26) individuals after flooding, an overall reduction of 54%. This reduction can be attributed to the direct impact of the flooding process, but it was likely exacerbated by indirect effects, such as increased disease, hunting, and reduction in food availability. Prior to flooding, the marsh deer was distributed widely throughout the dam's catchment area; however, the marsh deer habitat was almost completely destroyed by the flooding process. This situation highlights the need to implement management strategies that ensure the survival of the remaining fragmented population.

Abundance; anthropogenic impact; cervids; distance sampling; distribution

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