Giant armadillo Ecology and Conservation in the Cerrado of Central Brazil

This project aims to gather key insights into the ecology of giant armadillos and their conservation status.

This Project, located in Emas National Park and surrounding areas, has been obtaining information about the ecology (home range, habitat use, diet and density), epidemiology, genetics and conservation of giant armadillos since 2004. The giant armadillo, classified as endangered by the Brazilian environmental agency (IBAMA) and vulnerable by IUCN, is the largest armadillo of the Americas. The main threats to the giant armadillo are habitat loss and hunting (Wetzel, 1982). The giant armadillo can weigh up to 55 kilograms (121 lbs) and its diet is composed exclusively of insects and roots. The giant armadillo is nocturnal and is a potential prey for jaguars.
Study data is collected through camera traps, radio-telemetry, direct observation, track census, and collection of feces, blood and ectoparasites. In partnership with Carly Vynne, from the University of Washington, scat detector dogs were also used to collect distribution and habitat use data.

The giant armadillo population is estimated as 50 adults individuals (3.36 individuals/km²) inside Emas National Park. Until present, 11 individuals have been captured and fitted with radio-transmiters: 9 had the radio-transmitter fixed in the carapace and 2 had a radio-transmitter implanted. Through observations of giant armadillo movement via radio-telemetry, a home range of 10 km² was calculated. In this region, the giant armadillo prefer open habitats such as open cerrado, grassland, or edge of marsh. 65 photographs of giant armadillo obtained through camera-traps show a night activity pattern, with no photographs recorded between 10:00 and 18:00 hs (Silveira et al. 2009). Emas National Park shelters an important population of giant-armadillos that needs to be conserved.

References:

Silveira, L.; Jácomo, A. T. A.; Furtado, M. M.; Tôrres, N. M.; Sollmann, R.; Vynne, C. 2009. Ecology of the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) in the grasslands of central Brazil. Edentata, in press.

Photos