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Nation-wide indicators of ecological integrity in Mexico: The status of mammalian apex-predators and their habitat

Mora, Franz
Ecological indicators 2017 v.82 pp. 94-105
Canis latrans, Neotropics, Ursidae, ecoregions, habitat preferences, habitats, landscapes, mammals, monitoring, predator-prey relationships, predators, Arctic region, Mexico
Ecological indicators that evaluate the status and trends of mammalian apex predators are necessary for monitoring the ecological integrity of landscapes. Several nation-wide spatial indicators that describe the status of apex predators after habitat transformation have been developed for México. These spatial indicators show the condition of the remnant natural landscape for maintaining the complexity of predator-prey interactions and habitat selection and use. The indicators were obtained using the concept of ecological integrity, that characterize the landscape based upon manifest and latent variables of naturalness, stability and self-organization, according with the measures of spatial distribution of species and natural habitat. When the current status is evaluated for individual species of apex predators, all species showed less than 50% of their distribution areas with a high degree of ecological integrity. Neotropical predators (such as jaguars and ocelots) are more threatened by the transformation of natural habitat, than their counterparts in Nearctic regions (e.g., bears, cougars, bobcats, and coyotes), which showed nonetheless, a high amount of their distribution areas with a high proportion of degraded habitat. The indicators allowed evaluating the status of still extant top predators in the landscape and their habitat condition within major ecoregions in the country.