Rangewide habitat suitability analysis for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) to identify recovery areas in its historical distribution

Enrique Martínez-Meyer, Alejandro González-Bernal, Julián A. Velasco, Tyson L. Swetnam, Zaira Y. González-Saucedo, Jorge Servín, Carlos A. López-González, John K. Oakleaf, Stewart Liley, James R. Heffelfinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aim: To develop an updated distribution model and habitat suitability analysis for the Mexican wolf, to inform the recovery efforts in Mexico and the United States. Location: Mexico and the southwestern United States. Methods: We used an ensemble species distribution modelling (SDM) approach and a spatial analysis combining anthropogenic and ecological variables, including, for the first time, rangewide relative density estimates of wild ungulates, to determine the extent of suitable habitat for wolves within a region that includes the known historical range of the Mexican wolf and adjacent areas. Results: The results showed that the modelled distribution of the Mexican wolf extended from central Arizona and New Mexico, and western Texas in the United States, southwards along the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental, to the high sierras of Oaxaca, in Mexico. The habitat suitability models indicated that large tracts (>81,000 km2) of high-quality habitat still exist for the Mexican wolf in the southwestern United States, and the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental in Mexico, which could ensure recovery within its historical range. Main conclusions: The recovery of the Mexican wolf is a complex, multidimensional socio-ecological challenge, which requires binational cooperation guided by reliable information and robust scientific procedures. The next step is to carry out specific socio-ecological studies and actions for selected candidate sites to assess their viability for hastening its recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)642-654
Number of pages13
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Canis lupus baileyi
  • ecological niche modelling
  • habitat suitability
  • Mexican wolf
  • recovery
  • reintroduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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