Temperature and Prey Species Richness Drive the Broad-Scale Distribution of a Generalist Predator

Danai-Eleni Michailidou, Maria Lazarina, Stefanos P. Sgardelis
2021 Diversity  
The ongoing climate change and the unprecedented rate of biodiversity loss render the need to accurately project future species distributional patterns more critical than ever. Mounting evidence suggests that not only abiotic factors, but also biotic interactions drive broad-scale distributional patterns. Here, we explored the effect of predator-prey interaction on the predator distribution, using as target species the widespread and generalist grass snake (Natrix natrix). We used ensemble
more » ... used ensemble Species Distribution Modeling (SDM) to build a model only with abiotic variables (abiotic model) and a biotic one including prey species richness. Then we projected the future grass snake distribution using a modest emission scenario assuming an unhindered and no dispersal scenario. The two models performed equally well, with temperature and prey species richness emerging as the top drivers of species distribution in the abiotic and biotic models, respectively. In the future, a severe range contraction is anticipated in the case of no dispersal, a likely possibility as reptiles are poor dispersers. If the species can disperse freely, an improbable scenario due to habitat loss and fragmentation, it will lose part of its contemporary distribution, but it will expand northwards.
doi:10.3390/d13040169 fatcat:mpvljqst5bbdtdqsidaq7jvy7m