Diversity, distribution and conservation of the terrestrial reptiles of Oman (Sauropsida, Squamata)

Salvador Carranza, Meritxell Xipell, Pedro Tarroso, Andrew Gardner, Edwin Nicholas Arnold, Michael D. Robinson, Marc Simó-Riudalbas, Raquel Vasconcelos, Philip de Pous, Fèlix Amat, Jiří Šmíd, Roberto Sindaco, Margarita Metallinou, Johannes Els, Juan Manuel Pleguezuelos, Luis Machado, David Donaire, Gabriel Martínez, Joan Garcia-Porta, Tomáš MazuchThomas Wilms, Jürgen Gebhart, Javier Aznar, Javier Gallego, Bernd Michael Zwanzig, Daniel Fernández-Guiberteau, Theodore Papenfuss, Saleh Al Saadi, Ali Alghafri, Sultan Khalifa, Hamed Al Farqani, Salim Bait Bilal, Iman Sulaiman Alazri, Aziza Saud Al Adhoobi, Zeyana Salim Al Omairi, Mohammed Al Shariani, Ali Al Kiyumi, Thuraya Al Sariri, Ahmed Said Al Shukaili, Suleiman Nasser Al Akhzami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the present work, we use an exceptional database including 5,359 records of 101 species of Oman’s terrestrial reptiles together with spatial tools to infer the spatial patterns of species richness and endemicity, to infer the habitat preference of each species and to better define conservation priorities, with especial focus on the effectiveness of the protected areas in preserving this unique arid fauna. Our results indicate that the sampling effort is not only remarkable from a taxonomic point of view, with multiple observations for most species, but also for the spatial coverage achieved. The observations are distributed almost continuously across the two-dimensional climatic space of Oman defined by the mean annual temperature and the total annual precipitation and across the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of the multivariate climatic space and are well represented within 17 out of the 20 climatic clusters grouping 10% of the explained climatic variance defined by PC1 and PC2. Species richness is highest in the Hajar and Dhofar Mountains, two of the most biodiverse areas of the Arabian Peninsula, and endemic species richness is greatest in the Jebel Akhdar, the highest part of the Hajar Mountains. Oman’s 22 protected areas cover only 3.91% of the country, including within their limits 63.37% of terrestrial reptiles and 50% of all endemics. Our analyses show that large areas of the climatic space of Oman lie outside protected areas and that seven of the 20 climatic clusters are not protected at all. The results of the gap analysis indicate that most of the species are below the conservation target of 17% or even the less restrictive 12% of their total area within a protected area in order to be considered adequately protected. Therefore, an evaluation of the coverage of the current network of protected areas and the identification of priority protected areas for reptiles using reserve design algorithms are urgently needed. Our study also shows that more than half of the species are still pending of a definitive evaluation by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0190389
JournalPLoS One
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

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