A mammal native to South America’s savannas, the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) now lives in the Amazon Rainforest. That’s the finding of a recent study by researchers in the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso, Amazonas and Rondônia, which recorded 22 sightings of maned wolves in the Amazon over the past two decades. Ten were in new territory, effectively widening the animals’ normal geographic distribution by more than 51,000 square kilometers (20,000 square miles). “Our data raise the hypothesis that the maned wolf’s distribution has been expanding, given the fact that sightings in these new regions have been very recent,” says study co-author Almério Câmara Gusmão from the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA). Historically, the Amazonian biome marks the northern boundary of the maned wolf’s known range. But human occupation where the rainforest borders the Cerrado biome has brought about serious changes to the natural landscape over the past 50 years. Native rainforest vegetation has largely been replaced by pasture and grain monoculture, making it more appropriate for the propagation of native savanna species like the wolf apple (Solanum lycocarpum). As the name suggests, this wild tomato species is a fundamental part of the maned wolf’s diet — another reason why it’s now being spotted well outside its normal range. Intensive deforestation, fires, and a warming climate are wreaking unprecedented impacts on the Amazon. A study published last year in the journal Environmental Science and Policy shows how the shrubland and savanna of the Cerrado are bleeding into the Amazon…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer