Fellipe Alves Ozorio do Nascimento, Edson Gomes de Moura-Júnior, Erica da Silva Nascimento, Renato Garcia Rodrigues


Species distribution modeling (SDM) is a tool with several ecological applications, including predicting biological invasions and indicating environmentally appropriate areas for the occurrence of endemic or endangered species. The Caatinga endemic plant species Anamaria heterophylla (Plantaginaceae) is of rare occurrence and lives in ecologically vulnerable aquatic environments; the species is used as a parameter for the selection of Priority Areas for the Conservation of the Caatinga (PACCs). The objectives of this study were to estimate its potential geographic distribution and the climatic conditions across its distributional range, as well as to identify suitable areas for its occurrence, aiming to evaluate the efficiency of the current Protected Areas (PAs) and PACCs network as to the protection of the species. We developed SDM for A. heterophylla using the MaxEnt algorithm, based on 26 occurrence points, and evaluated the importance of environmental variables and the predictive ability of the generated distribution models. Our results predicted that the distribution of A. heterophylla is tightly guided by conditions of high aridity and low annual precipitation. The potential distribution model indicated three broad areas with high environmental suitability (probability of presence ≥ 0.8): one in the western of the state of Ceará, one between northern Bahia and western Pernambuco states, and another between the central region of the states of Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba, which overlap in large part the Caatinga regions where temporary ponds (primary habitat of A. heterophylla) are numerous. We found out that nine areas of the PAs and PACCs network of protecting areas presented high environmental suitability, as indicated by the SDM. Based on these findings, we recommend that future collection efforts for A. heterophylla focus on the key locations identified through the SDM, and we hope that this may serve to support future actions regarding the selection of important areas for biodiversity conservation in the Caatinga.


conservation of biodiversity; semiarid; species distribution modeling; temporary ponds


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