, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 451-473
Date: 30 Nov 2011

Reduced current distribution of Psittacidae on the Mexican Pacific coast: potential impacts of habitat loss and capture for trade

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Ecological niche models provide useful predictions of species distributions, but may fail to detect reductions in distribution due to factors other than habitat loss, such as hunting or trade. From 2001 to 2009, we conducted field-surveys along the Mexican Pacific coast to obtain presence–absence data for nine Psittacidae species. We applied Genetic Algorithm for Rule set Prediction (GARP) ecological niche modeling, using field-survey presence data to determine the potential current distribution of each species, and incorporated absence data to delineate extirpation areas. All parrot species showed a reduced current distribution, ranging from 9.6 to 79% reduction of estimated original distribution. The threatened and endemic species of Amazona oratrix, Amazona finschi, and Forpus cyanopygius suffered the greatest distribution reduction, higher than previously estimated by habitat-based models, suggesting that capture for trade may have caused extirpation of these species. The greatest extent of current distribution was occupied by Aratinga canicularis, Amazona albifrons and Ara militaris, which continue to occur throughout most of their original distribution. Amazona auropalliata, Aratinga strenua, and Brotogeris jugularis also occur throughout their restricted distribution in coastal Chiapas, and show a relatively small distribution reduction, but had the highest proportion of modified lands within their current distributions. Our results highlighted the regions of coastal Guerrero, northern Nayarit, and southern Sinaloa where parrot species have been extirpated even though GARP models predicted suitable habitat available. Ideally distribution models should be verified in the field to determine conservation priorities, and efforts should be directed to maintain populations of species with greatest distribution reductions.