Leiopelma hochstetteri is an endangered New Zealand frog now confined to isolated populations scattered across the North Island. A better understanding of its past, current and predicted future environmental suitability will contribute to its conservation which is in jeopardy due to human activities, feral predators, disease and climate change. Here we use ecological niche modelling with all known occurrence data (N = 1708) and six determinant environmental variables to elucidate current, pre-human and future environmental suitability of this species. Comparison among independent runs, subfossil records and a clamping method allow validation of models. Many areas identified as currently suitable do not host any known populations. This apparent discrepancy could be explained by several non exclusive hypotheses: the areas have not been adequately surveyed and undiscovered populations still remain, the model is over simplistic; the species' sensitivity to fragmentation and small population size; biotic interactions; historical events. An additional outcome is that apparently suitable, but frog-less areas could be targeted for future translocations. Surprisingly, pre-human conditions do not differ markedly highlighting the possibility that the range of the species was broadly fragmented before human arrival. Nevertheless, some populations, particularly on the west of the North Island may have disappeared as a result of human mediated habitat modification. Future conditions are marked with higher temperatures, which are predicted to be favourable to the species. However, such virtual gain in suitable range will probably not benefit the species given the highly fragmented nature of existing habitat and the low dispersal ability of this species. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- SPECIES DISTRIBUTION MODELS
- AMPHIBIAN DECLINES
- GLOBAL PATTERNS
- SLIDER TURTLE
[Fouquet, Antoine] Univ Sao Paulo, Inst Biociencias, Dept Zool, BR-05422970 Sao Paulo, Brazil; [Fouquet, Antoine] Univ Aix Marseille 1, Ctr St Charles, UMR IMEP 6116, Equipe Evolut Genome Environm, F-13331 Marseille, France; [Ficetola, Gentile Francesco] Univ Milano Bicocca, Dept Environm Sci, I-20126 Milan, Italy; [Haigh, Amanda] Dept Conservat, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand; [Gemmell, Neil] Univ Otago, Dept Anat & Struct Biol, Ctr Reprod & Genom, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Fouquet, A (reprint author), Univ Sao Paulo, Inst Biociencias, Dept Zool, Caixa Postal 11-461, BR-05422970 Sao Paulo, Brazil.