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Therya

On-line version ISSN 2007-3364

Abstract

GUEVARA, Lázaro; CERVANTES, Fernando A.  and  SANCHEZ-CORDERO, Víctor. Species richness, distribution, and conservation of moles and shrews (Mammalia, Eulipotyphla) from Mexico. Therya [online]. 2015, vol.6, n.1, pp.43-68. ISSN 2007-3364.  http://dx.doi.org/10.12933/therya-15-211.

INTRODUCTION:

Moles (Talpidae) and shrews (Soricidae) are the only representatives of the order Eulipotyphla in Mexico and they account for 7 % of mammals in the country. Despite their richness, even basic aspects such as their species-level taxonomic knowledge and geographical distribution are still uncertain. The scarcity of such information implies that the biology and conservation status of eulipotyphlans are also unclear or unevaluated, which involves a serious impediment to the design of management strategies for a group that tends to be susceptible to climate change and impacts of anthropogenic habitat transformation. Here, we performed a comprehensive assessment of the current state of knowledge and threats to the survival of Mexican moles and shrews using information from natural history collections and spatial environmental data.

METHODS:

We reviewed the available information in biological collections, databases, and literature records of Mexican eulipotyphlans, and evaluated the bias road in the collection of specimens. The current distribution was estimated for nearly all moles and shrews recorded in Mexico, using ecological niche modeling and retaining the remnant vegetation areas. Finally, we calculated the extent of distribution for each species within protected areas and within the most threatened ecosystems in Mexico to identify the most vulnerable taxa.

RESULTS:

The eulipotyphlan diversity of Mexico is represented by three species of moles and 36 of shrews. Of all these, 26 species (67 %) are endemic to the country and 27 (69 %) are listed in a risk category by Mexican government or global assessments. Eleven taxa are known only from no more ten specimens or from very few collecting sites. The shrew Sorex stizodon has not been recorded for more than a century. Current distributions of twelve species were not estimated because they are represented by just a few locality records (< 5). The region that could contain most taxonomic richness is the highlands of central and southern Mexico. The species with the highest percentage of transformed habitat are the mole Scalopus latimanus and the shrews Cryptotis merriami, C. mexicanus, C. obscurus, and Sorex ornatus. Based on the current distribution, the number of records, the current protection within AP and /or potential threats, Cryptotis griseoventris and the recently described C. lacandonensis should be protected by the Mexican government.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS:

This paper provides the first detailed documentation of available information on the taxonomy, nomenclature, current distribution, and threats of moles and shrews in Mexico. Information from natural history collections corroborates the sparse and biased knowledge about the distribution of eulipotyphlans (Ramí rez-Pulido et al. 2005; Carraway 2007). Our spatial analyses provide evidence that several species may be more endangered than suggested by global approaches (IUCN) and Mexican government legislation. Several species of moles and shrews may be represented sparsely in collections because of insufficient collecting. Our niche models projected onto a map to identify the distribution should be used in directing field survey efforts and scientific collecting in order to increase the information regarding the current population status of moles and shrews.

Keywords : bias road; current distribution; field surveys; Insectivora; natural history collections; small mammals.

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