Amphibian Hotspots and Conservation Priorities in Eastern Cuba Identified by Species Distribution Modeling

  • Fong G. A
  • Viña Dávila N
  • López-Iborra G
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Abstract

The high rate of amphibian endemism and the severe habitat modification in the Caribbean islands make them an ideal place to test if the current protected areas network might protect this group. In this study, we model distribution and map species richness of the 40 amphibian species from eastern Cuba with the objectives of identify hotspots, detect gaps in species representation in protected areas, and select additional areas to fill these gaps. We used two modeling methods, Maxent and Habitat Suitability Models, to reach a consen- sus distribution map for each species, then calculate species richness by combining specific models and finally performed gap analyses for species and hotspots. Our results showed that the models were robust enough to predict species distributions and that most of the amphibian hotspots were represented in reserves, but 50 percent of the species were incompletely covered and Eleutherodactylus rivularis was totally uncovered by the protected areas. We identified 1441 additional km2 (9.9% of the study area) that could be added to the cur- rent protected areas, allowing the representation of every species and all hotspots. Our results are relevant for the conservation planning in other Caribbean islands, since studies like this could contribute to fill the gaps in the existing protected areas and to design a future network. Both cases would benefit from modeling amphibian species distribution using available data, even if they are incomplete, rather than relying only in the protection of known or suspected hotspots.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Caribbean
  • Frogs
  • Gap analysis
  • High-value diversity areas
  • Spatial prediction models

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Authors

  • Ansel Fong G.

  • Nicasio Viña Dávila

  • Germán M. López-Iborra

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