Habitat selection by the 1st reintroduced population of giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) was studied at Iberá Nature Reserve (northeastern Argentina), a subtropical region of wetlands, grasslands, and forests, with properties dedicated to nature conservation or livestock production. Eighteen animals were released and radiotracked between 2007 and 2012 for periods of 6–46 months, producing 1,181 locations. The effect of land use was assessed using chi-square tests. Resource selection functions were used to assess habitat selection at 2 spatial scales using as covariates habitat type (grassland, open savanna, closed savanna, and hygrophilous forest), distance to forest edge, and distance to a main road. Habitat selection was modeled for different ages (juveniles and adults), activity (resting or active), and seasons (summer, transition, and winter) and was validated with individuals previously excluded from our analysis. Anteaters strongly selected areas dedicated to nature conservation. Adults showed higher model fit. Hygrophilous forest was positively selected and open savanna was avoided. Anteaters rested almost exclusively in forests. While active they increased the use of other habitats, except for open savanna. Grasslands were most used during the winter season, probably because they provide a constant food source and better cover than savannas. Even though < 4% of the landscape was covered by forests, this habitat proved to be important for giant anteaters. Deforestation and traditional cattle management may have caused the local extinction of the species at Iberá. Establishment of strict conservation areas in nonflooded areas combined with proper management of forests and livestock may be essential for the long-term survival of reintroduced populations in Iberá and similar regions.
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Vol. 96 • No. 5