Potential distribution under different climatic scenarios of climate change of the vulnerable Caucasian salamander (Mertensiella caucasica): A case study of the Caucasus Hotspot

Abstract

Amphibians are strongly affected by climate change like many vertebrate animals. To address this problematic situation, we examined the potential effect of climate change on the distribution of Mertensiella caucasica (Waga, 1876) that is the best known species in Caucasus hotspot using future distribution modelling (average for 2041–2060 and 2061–2080) under RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 emission scenarios. According to our model, the future distribution showed a remarkable expansion towards the northwest part of the Greater Caucasus whereas it indicated a regression from the West of the western Lesser Caucasus up to the Greater Caucasus. Our results indicated that most habitat loss seems to occur in the West Lesser Caucasus including the northeast of Turkey and the East Lesser Caucasus. Moreover, habitat suitability for M. caucasica showed trends towards local extinction in the future. In the Caucasus hotspot, the expected distribution range of M. caucasica will decrease with the risk of local extinction. Therefore, we recommend that its status in IUCN Red List should be reconsidered again.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by Research Fund of the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University [grant number FKG-2016-528]. We would like to thank the anonymous referee’s constructive comments.

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Correspondence to Serkan Gül.

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Gül, S., Kumlutaş, Y. & Ilgaz, Ç. Potential distribution under different climatic scenarios of climate change of the vulnerable Caucasian salamander (Mertensiella caucasica): A case study of the Caucasus Hotspot. Biologia 73, 175–184 (2018). https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-018-0020-y

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Keywords

  • Amphibians
  • Biodiversity
  • Caucasus
  • Conservation
  • Ecological niche modelling