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Potential distribution of Ursus americanus in Mexico and its persistence: Implications for conservation

Monroy-Vilchis, Octavio, Castillo-Huitrón, Nathalia M., Zarco-González, Martha M., Rodríguez-Soto, Clarita
Journal for nature conservation 2016 v.29 pp. 62-68
Ursus americanus, biogeography, coniferous forests, conservation areas, dry forests, endangered species, habitats, models, mountains, Mexico
The black bear Ursus americanus is an endangered species in Mexico. Its historical distribution has decreased by approximately 80% although its current distribution is not known with precision; it is only reported to be present in the mountains of Northern Mexico. This study proposes two ensemble models: Mexicós black bear (a) potential distribution compared with Natural Protected Areas (NPAs); and, (b) persistence areas for 2024. The current distribution variables are coniferous forest, elevation and dry forest. Suitable habitat for black bear (354,047km2, 18.07% of the country) was found mainly in the north of the Sonoran biogeographical zone, along the Sierra Madre Occidental, the center and south of the Sierra Madre Oriental and some northern regions of the Altiplano Norte. Comparing these areas with NPAs documented that only 12.41% of potential distribution coincided with current suitable habitat. There are unprotected areas in Sierra Madre Occidental center and central and southern of Sierra Madre Oriental. The model for 2024 indicates a reduction of suitable habitat of 64.5%, mainly in the northern Sonoran zone and the center Sierra Madre Occidental. On the other hand, areas that will persist (125,673km2) are located along the two main mountain ranges of Mexico. Identification of these sites will allow strengthening of long-term conservation strategies.