Ecological niche modelling of endemic fish within La Paz Bay: Implications for conservation

Francisco J. Urcádiz-Cázares, Víctor Hugo Cruz-Escalona, Mark S. Peterson, Emigdio Marín-Enriquez, Adrián F. González-Acosta, Guillermo Martínez-Flores, Gustavo H. Hernández-Carmona, Rosalía Aguilar-Medrano, Arturo Del Pino-Machado, Alfredo Ortega-Rubio

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Endemic marine species are useful in determining and evaluating areas for conservation. Particularly Warm Temperate Province of the Northeast Pacific (WTPNP) includes priority conservation areas, but records of endemic marine species are limited, their distributions remains generally unknown, and often excluded in extant conservation plans. Within the WTPNP, the Balandra Protected Natural Area (BPNA) is located within La Paz Bay, and it is the only management area with a developed plan. However, marine endemic fish species have not been fully considering, and their protection status requires a re-evaluation, particularly the distribution of species with adequate spatial resolution. Despite the scarce information on marine endemic fishes, ecological niche modelling allows predicting distribution areas through occurrences of the species and their relationship with a set of scenopoetic environmental variables. The abiotically suitable areas based of the endemic marine fish species within the WTPNP documented within the Bay of La Paz were modeled and the high-value areas for conservation were established through a multi-species models; these spatial patterns of suitable areas were contrasted with the current state of fish protection. Modelling was performed with the Maxent software supplied with presence-only data of 18 species and four sets of environmental layers related to the geomorphology and bottom sedimentology, as well as the Euclidean distance measures from mangrove and rocky shore habitats. We generated sixteen distribution models that revealed that only 8.4 % of the predicted area, on average, was located within a maximum state of protection within the BPNA core zone. Moreover, the generated multi-species model reveals that only 17 % of the high-value areas (≥ 9 species/hectare) were located in the core zone. These high-value areas indicate updating the current management program is required. Finally, the study illustrates how the predicted-areas can be linked to conservation strategies in the marine habitat space within and outside the BPNA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125981
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Balandra Protected Natural Area
  • Ecological niche modelling
  • Endemic fish
  • La Paz Bay
  • Maxent

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