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Temporal analysis of Mauremys leprosa (Testudines, Geoemydidae) distribution in northeastern Iberia: unusual increase in the distribution of a native species

Abstract

Populations of most species of freshwater turtles in Europe show negative trends due to a number of factors. The European distribution of the Mediterranean stripe-necked terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) is restricted to the Iberian Peninsula and a small area in southern France. The species is considered common in Spain and Portugal but has shown a decrease in its distribution and population density though most of the Iberian Peninsula, other than the Catalonia region in the northeast. The main objective of this work was to use ecological niche modelling to evaluate trends in the status of M. leprosa in the Catalonia region. Species distribution has increased over time from coastal to inland areas. The maximum altitude of the species in the study area increased throughout the three time periods studied. M. leprosa is becoming more common with less isolated populations. Realised niche models indicated that M. leprosa preferred wetlands and water bodies, artificial surfaces and agricultural areas up to 900 m with sunny orientations. In regards to climatic preferences, M. leprosa is a thermophilous species that, unlike other native freshwater European turtles, shows some tolerance for habitat disturbance.

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Acknowledgments

We thank all collaborators of the Herpetology group of Universitat de Barcelona for their help in fieldwork and special thanks to all those people, NGO’s and institutions that have provided data to make this paper possible (detailed in the supplementary file). We are grateful to authorisations for prospecting and capture of turtles provided by Servei de Protecció i Gestió de la Fauna (Environmental Department of the Catalan government). M. Franch is financed by a Grant (UMINHO/BI/175/2013) from the Foundation for Science and Technology Portugal (FCT) and co-financed by FEDER through COMPETE –POFC (“Intelligent systems for mapping amphibian mortality on Portuguese roads”, PTDC/BIA-BIC/4296/2012). Data compilation was supported by the Environmental Department of the Catalan government (DMA) and Fundació Bosch i Gimpera (FBG302577) 2004–2007, Obra Social Caja Madrid (2007ma189) and Land Stewardship Program—DMA and Emys Foundation (2009–2011). N. Sillero is supported by an FCT contract IF/01526/2013.

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Franch, M., Montori, A., Sillero, N. et al. Temporal analysis of Mauremys leprosa (Testudines, Geoemydidae) distribution in northeastern Iberia: unusual increase in the distribution of a native species. Hydrobiologia 757, 129–142 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-015-2247-8

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Keywords

  • Mauremys leprosa
  • Spatial distribution
  • MaxEnt
  • Temporal trends