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Predicting the distribution of cryptic species: the case of the spur-thighed tortoise in Andalusia (southern Iberian Peninsula)

AutorBáez, José C.; Estrada, Alba ; Real, Raimundo
Palabras claveSpatial modelling
Conservation biology
Fecha de publicación2012
CitaciónBiodiversity and Conservation 21(1): 65-78 (2012)
ResumenSome species are very difficult to observe in the wild, and some of these present an apparently incongruent distribution, as is the case of the spur-thighed tortoise Testudo graeca in the southern Iberian Peninsula. This species has a discontinuous distribution with two main reproductive areas: one in the contiguous provinces of Almeria and Murcia, and the other in Huelva province. Both populations are thought to maintain reproductive isolation. However, we present new records obtained from two areas (the provinces of Malaga and Cadiz) which are outside their previously known range. Malaga province and Cadiz province are located between the two traditional reproductive areas. The new records were based on 16 interviews with shepherds as well as information provided by three naturalists. The aim of this work was to analyze the spatial distribution of areas favourable to the spur-thighed tortoise in the southern Iberian Peninsula, using different models with the same group of variables but with a different number of records: known records, new records and a combination of them. We obtained a distribution model for the species in Andalusia consistent with all observations, which was related to climatic stability, climatic disturbances, and spatial situation. This model presented three main favourable areas: two are coincident with the two known nuclei, and the other is situated in the southern part of the region, in the contiguous provinces of Cadiz and Malaga. We conclude that it is important to consider all the observations in the distribution models because records outside the traditional reproductive areas can include other environmental characteristics appropriate for the species.
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1007/s10531-011-0164-3
issn: 0960-3115
e-issn: 1572-9710
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