|Can recent global changes explain the dramatic range contraction of an endangered semi-aquatic mammal species in the French Pyrenees?
|Charbonnel, A., P. Laffaille, M. Biffi, F. Blanc, A. Maire, M. Némoz, J.M. Sanchez-Perez, S. Sauvage and L. Buisson
|URL (non-DOI journals):
|Broad Application Category:
|Primary Application Category:
|Secondary Application Category:
|calibration, sensitivity, and/or uncertainty analysis
|18,000 km^2 French Pyrenees mountain region, located in southern France
|Species distribution models (SDMs) are the main tool to predict global change impacts on species ranges. Climate change alone is frequently considered, but in freshwater ecosystems, hydrology is a key driver of the ecology of aquatic species. At large scale, hydrology is however rarely accounted for, owing to the lack of detailed stream flow data. In this study, we developed an integrated modelling approach to simulate stream flow using the hydrological Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). Simulated stream flow was subsequently included as an input variable in SDMs along with topographic, hydrographic, climatic and land-cover descriptors. SDMs were applied to two temporally-distinct surveys of the distribution of the endangered Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) in the French Pyrenees: a historical one conducted from 1985 to 1992 and a current one carried out between 2011 and 2013. The model calibrated on historical data was also forecasted onto the current period to assess its ability to describe the distributional change of the Pyrenean desman that has been modelled in the recent years. First, we found that hydrological and climatic variables were the ones influencing the most the distribution of this species for both periods, emphasizing the importance of taking into account hydrology when SDMs are applied to aquatic species. Secondly, our results highlighted a strong range contraction of the Pyrenean desman in the French Pyrenees over the last 25 years. Given that this range contraction was under-estimated when the historical model was forecasted onto current conditions, this finding suggests that other drivers may be interacting with climate, hydrology and land-use changes. Our results imply major concerns for the conservation of this endemic semi-aquatic mammal since changes in climate and hydrology are expected to become more intense in the future.