Diniz, JAF, de Oliveira, G, Lobo, F, Ferreira, LG, Bini, LM, Rangel, TFLVB (2009). "AGRICULTURE, HABITAT LOSS AND SPATIAL PATTERNS OF HUMAN OCCUPATION IN A BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT". SCIENTIA AGRICOLA, 66(6), 764-771.
The Cerrado biome, the second largest biome in Neotropical region, consists of a mosaic of different habitat types, ranging from open grasslands to dense woodlands and dry forests. An intensive recent occupation process has transformed it into the most important region for cattle ranching and intensive commodity crops in Brazil. In this study, a macroecological approach was used to evaluate broad-scale spatial patterns of habitat loss in the Brazilian Cerrado, applying a series of spatial autocorrelation and partial regression analyses to understand how the proportion of remaining natural habitats is correlated with socio-economic variables, expressing different dimensions of human occupation and climatic variation. On average, 59% of the area is occupied by natural remnants at the spatial scale analyzed, although patterns of habitat loss are strongly spatially structured, with a Moran's I spatial autocorrelation coefficient equal to 0.825 +/- 0.055 (p < 0.001). The partial regression analysis explains 89% of variation in percentage of natural remnants. The highest proportion of variance is explained by the multiple overlap between human occupation, climatic variation and geographic structure (67%), as well as by the climatically structured component of human occupation (8%). Based on the space-time interactive process of human occupation in the biome, future scenarios should be rather pessimistic. If the wave of human occupation continues towards the northern parts of the biome, as expected, we can predict that percentages will decline rapidly including even stronger losses of habitat at the biome scale.