MARTIN Gabriel Mario
Regional Extinctions and Quaternary Shifts in the Geographic Range of Lestodelphys halli, the Southernmost Living Marsupial: Clues for Its Conservation
FORMOSO, A.E.; MARTIN, G.M.; TETA, P.; CARBAJO, A.E.; UDRIZAR SAUTHIER, D. E.; PARDIÑAS, U.F.J.
PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
Lugar: San Francisco; Año: 2015 vol. 10
The Patagonian opossum (Lestodelphys halli), the southernmost living marsupial, inhabitsdry and open environments, mainly in the Patagonian steppe (between ~32°S and ~49°S).Its rich fossil record shows its occurrence further north in Central Argentina during the Qua-ternary. The paleoenvironmental meaning of the past distribution of L. halli has been mostlyaddressed in a subjective framework without an explicit connection with the climatic ?space?currently occupied by this animal. Here, we assessed the potential distribution of this spe-cies and the changes occurred in its geographic range during late Pleistocene-Holocenetimes and linked the results obtained with conservation issues. To this end, we generatedthree potential distribution models with fossil records and three with current ones, usingMaxEnt software. These models showed a decrease in the suitable habitat conditions forthe 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 Pleisto-cene-Holocene can be related to precipitation and temperature variables and that its currentpresence in Patagonia is more related to temperature and dominant soils. The modelsobtained suggest that the species has been experiencing a reduction in its geographicrange since the middle Holocene, a process that is in accordance with a general increase inmoisture and temperature in Central Argentina. Considering the findings of our work andthe future scenario of global warming projected for Patagonia, we might expect a harshimpact on the distribution range of this opossum in the near future.