Environmental and ecological architects: Guidelines for the Chilean temperate rainforest management derived from the monito del monte (Dromiciops gliroides) conservation
Land use change is one of the main biodiversity threats. Due to this change, natural habitats such as the South American temperate rainforests have been rapidly degraded, fragmented, and lost. Consequently, the management and conservation of the remaining forest is a priority and having an appropriate environmental policy is mandatory for this purpose. Conservation actions in the temperate rainforest have been addressed from an individual species perspective, giving less attention to the ecosystem level conservation. Moreover, conservation-related information has not reflected yet on environmental policy development. We used the case study of the monito del monte (Dromiciops gliroides) to illustrate how our current ecological and conservation knowledge of a species could be used to generate a new environmental policy. Dromiciops gliroides is a forest-dependent species with an important ecological role and quite unique evolutionary status. In order to guarantee the persistence of D. gliroides, we propose two habitat management components to be incorporated in management plans: structure and connectivity. Structure refers to spatial arrangement and key structural elements that determine habitat quality and connectivity refers to functional connectivity at the landscape level. The conservation of the monito del monte might also contribute to the conservation of many other forest-dependent species. By conserving such species it will be possible to conserve the ecological interactions and the eco-evolutionary processes, which ultimately determine the conservation of the temperate rainforest.