Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Modeling the distribution of the endangered Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) in the face of anthropogenic global change (#338)

Lauren M Gibson 1 , Alexis M Mychajliw 1 , Ernst Rupp 2 , Elizabeth A Hadly 1
  1. Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States
  2. Grupo Jaragua, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

During the Holocene, the Caribbean suffered the largest regional postglacial mammalian extinction event, resulting in the extinction of over half of the native terrestrial fauna. The Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) is one of only two endemic terrestrial mammals from the island of Hispaniola that survived to today. However, despite the species’ 72-million-year history and its IUCN endangered status, very little is known about the solenodon’s distribution or the factors that drive that distribution. In this study, we employed a maximum entropy (MaxEnt) framework to generate species distribution models (SDMs) of the Hispaniolan solenodon during the late Quaternary and during the last fifty years. For each time period, two models were created. The first model included only bioclimatic variables characteristically included in SDMs. The second model included other potentially relevant factors, including soils and geology for the late Quaternary and soils, geology, land use, forest cover, and human population density for the modern time. The models including these additional factors outperformed the bioclimate-only models. These stronger models suggested that, in the late Quaternary, soils and geology were stronger determinants of solenodon distribution than were temperature or precipitation. In the modern time, human population density was seen to be the main driver of solenodon distribution. These results suggest that solenodons may not have a strictly delimited bioclimatic envelope in which they must live but may instead have a range limited by human encroachment into their habitats. Continued human population expansion will therefore likely threaten their future survival more than anthropogenic climate change.