Using ecological niche modelling to identify diversity hotspots for the herpetofauna of Pacific lowlands and adjacent interior valleys of Mexico
This article documents the conservation status of the herpetofauna in the Pacific lowlands and adjacent Balsas Basin and Chiapas Depression regions and the presents the results of modelling species spatial distributional patterns through GARP analysis, to identify hotspots of species richness, endemic and geographically restricted species in the study area. It also compares the distribution of these hotspots with the distribution of protected areas and intact seasonally tropical dry tropical forests, the dominant vegetation type in the study area and experiencing high deforestation rates. A total of 301 reptiles and amphibian species occur in the study area accounting for a third of the Mexican herpetofauna, and recording high levels of endemism and endangerment. Hotspots of species richness and endemism were located in coastal Jalisco, a considerable portion of the Colima state, as well as scattered areas in Michoacán, Guerrero, and Oaxaca. These areas should receive highest priority for protection. Unfortunately, there was a minimum correspondence when comparing the distribution of actually and proposed protected areas with hotspots identified. Fortunately, areas of high species richness, endemism and restricted species coincided with those where intact seasonally tropical dry tropical forests still exists. These areas should receive high priority in future plans for seasonally tropical dry tropical forests protected areas. It is hoped that this paper will call attention to the need for establishing a network of protected areas in the study area, as has been proposed by previous studies.