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Population viability analysis of common marsupials, Didelphis marsupialis and Didelphis virginiana, in a scenario of constant loss of native vegetation

  • Bárbara Cruz-Salazar ORCID logo EMAIL logo and Lorena Ruiz-Montoya ORCID logo
From the journal Mammalia


We studied the population viability of two common marsupials, Didelphis marsupialis and Didelphis virginiana, based on field data and published ecological and genetic information. Using the VORTEX v. 10. 2.6 program, a 100-year simulation was performed with 1000 iterations for five populations of D. marsupialis and six of D. virginiana. A low probability of extinction was observed in both species, particularly for D. virginiana (0.000–0.007). Population size is higher considering a metapopulation dynamics approach versus individual populations for the two marsupials: 498.25 individuals for D. marsupialis and 367.41 individuals for D. virginiana. The estimated mean genetic diversity was high for both D. marsupialis (He = 0.77–0.78) and D. virginiana (He = 0.79–0.82). The survival of both species over time could be expected to increase if a metapopulation dynamics is favored over the coming decades, despite a 1.3% loss rate of forest cover. The monitoring of population size and genetic diversity is highly recommended to validate the trends suggested by the model; this is especially true for D. marsupialis, a species associated with conserved areas that are becoming progressively less abundant. This research provides information on the responses of common mammalian species to environmental changes such as deforestation.


We wish to thank Alfonso Ortiz Moreno, Wenceslao Bonifáz, Carlos Molina, Eugenia Sántiz, and Trinidad Alejandro Guillén for their assistance in fieldwork. This work was part of the doctoral thesis of Bárbara Cruz Salazar (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología scholarship number 175336, Funder Id: María Elena Sánchez-Salazar translated the manuscript into English.


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Received: 2019-10-22
Accepted: 2019-12-17
Published Online: 2020-02-04
Published in Print: 2020-09-25

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