UCL Division of Biosciences


Guilherme Braga Ferreira

PhD Title:

Assessing protected area effectiveness in safeguarding large mammals in the Brazilian Cerrado

Brief CV

Guilherme Ferreira

2015-present: PhD candidate

Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, University College London and Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.

2006-present: Member and programme manager Instituto Biotrópicos (Brazilian conservation NGO)

2006-2008: MSc Ecology, Conservation and Wildlife Management Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)

2002-2005: BSc Biological Sciences
Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC-MG)


I have been working with large mammals in the Cerrado of Minas Gerais state since 2004, when I started as an intern at Instituto Biotrópicos - a recently founded conservation NGO. In 2006 I became one of the members of this NGO and since then I have been continuously working to build up and expand the organization. At Biotrópicos, I began to conduct camera trap surveys in the Peruaçu River valley, initially searching for the rare bush dog (a species thought to be extinct in Minas Gerais by that time). These surveys were later expanded to other understudied regions, and by 2013 we had conducted large mammal surveys in 12 protected areas spread across central and northern Minas Gerais.

Besides my research on large mammals, I am also involved in amphibian surveys, in a pilot project of dry forest restoration, and in identifying potential biodiversity corridors to connect protected areas.

Current Research

Most assessments of protected areas effectiveness conducted so far have focused on remote sensing data to estimate conversion of natural vegetation. Nevertheless, biodiversity loss can still happen without a significant change in land cover. Therefore, reliable measures of conservation outcomes based on local biodiversity metrics are needed to assess protected areas effectiveness and should complement assessments relying on habitat conversion data.

The Cerrado is the most biodiversity-rich tropical savanna and Brazil’s main agriculture frontier, but only 3% of its original area is protected by strict reserves. In order to safeguard at least some of this incredible biodiversity, it is crucial that these parks and reserves are as effective as possible. However, apart from a handful of assessments showing that Cerrado protected areas are generally effective in avoiding land conversion virtually nothing else is known about the effect of protection on this ecosystem. 

For my PhD I will investigate protected areas effectiveness in safeguarding Cerrado large mammals, using a standardized camera trap protocol to survey protected areas with contrasting levels of management regimes and anthropogenic pressure. This study is conducted in the mosaic of protected areas Sertão Veredas-Peruaçu, northern Minas Gerais, one of the most important regions for biodiversity conservation in south-eastern Brazil, harbouring large amounts of natural vegetation cover and a virtually intact large mammal community.

Selected Publications

Pinho, F.F.; Ferreira, G.B.; Paglia, A.P. In Press. Influence of vegetation physiognomy, elevation and fire frequency on species richness and habitat use of medium and large mammals in two protected areas of the Espinhaço Range. Zoologia

Barata, I. M.; Correia C. M.; Ferreira G. B. 2016. Amphibian species composition and priorities for regional conservation at the Espinhaço mosaic, Southeastern Brazil. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 11, 293-303.

Barata, I.M.; Uhlig, V.M.; Silva, G.H.; Ferreira, G.B. 2016. Downscaling the Gap: Protected Areas, Scientific Knowledge and the Conservation of Amphibian Species in Minas Gerais, Southeastern Brazil. South American Journal of Herpetology, 1 (1), 34-45

Aguiar, L.M.S.; Machado, R.B.; Françoso, R.; Neves, A.C.; Fernandes, G.W.; Pedroni, F.; Lacerda, M.S.; Ferreira, G.B.; Silva, J.A.; Bustamante, M.; Diniz, S. 2015. Cerrado: terra incógnita do século 21. Ciência Hoje, 330: 32-37

Ferreira, G.B.; Oliveira, M.J.R.; Paula, R.C.; Rodrigues, F.H.G.; Carmo, E.D. 2015. Regionally extinct species rediscovered: the bush dog Speothos venaticus in Minas Gerais, south-eastern Brazil. Oryx – the international journal of conservation, 49:1, 60-63.

Ferreira, G.B.; Oliveira, M.J.R.; Moraes-Jr, E.A.; Silva, J.A.; Rodrigues, F.H.G. 2011. Large mammals in Veredas do Peruaçu State Park: richness, composition and conservation strategies (in Portuguese). MG-Biota, 4(2): 6-19.


Fernandes, G.W.; Pedroni, F.; Lacerda, M.S.; Scariot, A.; Aguiar, L.M.S.; Ferreira, G.B.; Machado, R.B.; Ferreira, M.E.; Diniz, S.; Pinheiro, R.; Costa, J.A.S.; Dirzo, R; Muniz, F. 2016. Cerrado: em busca de soluções sustentáveis. Editora Vozes, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. 211p.

Ferreira, G.B. & Oliveira, M.J.R. 2014. Descobrindo os mamíferos – um guia para as espécies do norte de Minas Gerais/Discovering mammals – a guide to the species of northern Minas Gerais (Bilingual edition). Biografa, Januária, Brazil. 131p. ISBN: 978-85-66229-04-2


Dr Ben Collen (Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, University College London)  

Dr Chris Carbone (Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London)

Dr Marcus Rowcliffe (Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London)


Marcelo J. R. Oliveira, Fernando F. de Pinho and Marcell S. Pinheiro (all from Instituto Biotrópicos)


Peruaçu – 10 min. video about a large mammal monitoring project in northern Minas Gerais

Camera trap records from Cavernas do Peruaçu National Park

Researchgate profile

Twitter: @bushdogGBF