MUSEO ARGENTINO DE CIENCIAS NATURALES "BERNARDINO RIVADAVIA"
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Regional extinctions and Quaternary shifts in the geographic range of the southernmost living marsupial: clues for its conservation
ANAHÍ E. FORMOSO, GABRIEL M. MARTIN, PABLO TETA, ANÍBAL E. CARBAJO, DANIEL E. UDRIZAR SAUTHIER AND ULYSES F. J. PARDIÑAS
PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
Lugar: San Francisco; Año: 2015
The Patagonian Opossum (Lestodelphys halli) is the southernmost living marsupial and occurs in dry and open environments, mainly in the Patagonian steppe (between ~32ºS and ~49ºS). Its rich fossil record shows its occurrence far to north in Central Argentina during the Quaternary. The paleoenvironmental meaning of the past distribution of L. halli was mostly addressed in a subjective framework without an explicit connection to the climatic ?space? occupied by this animal today. Here we assessed the potential distribution of this species and the changes occurred in its geographic range during Late Pleistocene-Holocene times and linked the obtained results with conservation issues. Three potential distribution models were generated with fossil records and three with current ones using MaxEnt software. These models showed a decrease in the suitable habitat conditions for the species, highlighting a range shift from Central-Eastern to South-Western Argentina. Our results support that the presence of L. halli in the Pampean region during the Pleistocene-Holocene can be related to precipitation and temperature variables, while its current presence in Patagonia is more related to temperature and dominant soils. The obtained models suggest that the species is experiencing a reduction in its geographic range since the Middle Holocene, a process that is in accordance with a general increasing of moisture and temperature in Central Argentina. Considering the findings of our work and the future scenario of global warming projected to Patagonia, we might expect a harsh impact in the distributional range of this opossum in the near future.