Predicted future benefits for an endemic rodent in the Irano-Turanian region

Meeussen, Suzanna E.J.; Hof, Anouschka R.


Climate change is expected to have an impact on the geographical distribution ranges of species. Endemic species and those with a restricted geographic range may be especially vulnerable. The Persian jird (Meriones persicus) is an endemic rodent inhabiting the mountainous areas of the Irano-Turanian region, where future desertification may form a threat to the species. In this study, the species distribution modelling algorithm MaxEnt was used to assess the impact of future climate change on the geographic distribution range of the Persian jird. Predictions were made under two Representative Concentration Pathways and five different climate models for the years 2050 and 2070. It was found that both bioclimatic variables and land use variables were important in determining potential suitability of the region for the species to occur. In most cases, the future predictions showed an expansion of the geographic range of the Persian jird which indicates that the species is not under immediate threat. There are however uncertainties with regards to its current range. Predictions may therefore be an over or underestimation of the total suitable area. Further research is thus needed to confirm the current geographic range of the Persian jird to be able to improve assessments of the impact of future climate change.