Using ecological niche modeling to predict the distributions of two endangered amphibian species in aquatic breeding sites
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- Blank, L. & Blaustein, L. Hydrobiologia (2012) 693: 157. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1101-5
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Amphibians are among the most threatened taxonomic groups worldwide. A fundamental step in species conservation is identifying the habitat requirements of the target species. However, this determination can often be problematic in endangered species because, by definition, they often only occupy a very limited number of sites. Moreover, when found, they are often in low abundance, and thus their detectability is low, yielding false “absence” data. Maximum entropy niche modeling provides a tool using only the presence data to predict potential habitat distributions of endangered species whose distributions have become highly limited. We provide two examples in the current study for the fire salamander, Salamandra infraimmaculata, and the green toad, Bufo viridis. S. infraimmaculata is considered endangered in Israel and near endangered worldwide. B. viridis is classified as locally endangered in Israel. Soil type was the most important predictor of the distribution of S. infraimmaculata and, to a lesser extent, also predicted the distribution of B. viridis. In addition, S. infraimmaculata larvae were also associated with high elevation areas. B. viridis was negatively associated with distance to urban areas and low solar radiation level. The potential distribution maps determined for S.infraimmaculata and B. viridis can help in planning future wetland use management around its existing populations, discovering new populations, identifying top-priority survey sites, or set priorities to restore its natural habitat for more effective conservation.