Integrating remote sensing and phytosociology of the Atlantic Forest to map a small continental island in southeastern Brazil: subsidies to protect the habitat of critically endangered species

Abstract Queimada Grande (QGI) is a small, legally protected island off the southeastern coast of Brazil that harbors two endemic and critically endangered herpetofauna species: the Golden Lancehead viper (Bothrops insularis) and a hylid frog (Scinax peixotoi); its vegetation, however, has been little studied. We integrated remote sensing and phytosociology of the Atlantic Forest on QGI to characterize the habitat of those two species and support their in situ conservation. QGI retains a mosaic of Atlantic Forest, rock outcrop and anthropogenic vegetation, including invasive alien species, and bare rock surfaces. Mature Atlantic Forest, the preferential habitat of B. insularis and S. peixotoi, currently covers ~28 ha (~50%) of QGI and shows very low tree richness and an oligarchic structure. The most important species are Guapira opposita, Rudgea minor and Aspidosperma australe. Anthropogenic formations cover ~9% of the island and do not seem to have expanded in recent years. Based on local conditions, we recommend permanent monitoring of QGI and the use of local tree species in projects to restore the habitat of those two endangered species.