Distribution and diversity of reptiles in Albania: a novel database from a Mediterranean hotspot

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Although Albania has a rich reptile fauna, efforts to reveal its diversity have so far been limited. To fill this gap, we collected available published and unpublished (museum collections, online sources) records of reptile occurrences and conducted several expeditions to search for reptiles in areas with few or no previous records. Our georeferenced database contains 3731 records of 40 species from between 1918 and 2015. Based on this comprehensive dataset, we prepared distribution maps for each reptile species of the country. Applying spatial statistics, we revealed that overall sampling effort was clustered, with hotspots associated with easily accessible areas and natural heritage sites. The maximum number of species per cell was 26 with an average of seven. Cells harbouring large reptile diversity were located along the Adriatic and Ionian coasts, on the western slopes of south Albanian mountains, i.e. in areas generally considered as Balkans biodiversity hotspots or potential historical refugia. We found that species presence and diversity is strongly influenced by landscape features. Diversity of land cover, altitudinal variation, temperature and precipitation variation explained the observed pattern in our models. Our study presents the largest database of reptile occurrences to date and is the first to analyse reptile diversity patterns in Albania. The database and the diversity patterns can provide a basis for future macroecological studies and conservation planning.

Distribution and diversity of reptiles in Albania: a novel database from a Mediterranean hotspot

in Amphibia-Reptilia

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Figures

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    Geographic map of the study area indicating toponymics mentioned in the text.

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    Number of records by year of publication (published sources) or year of data collection (unpublished sources). Vertical line indicates the year when the former isolationist political system ended in Albania (1991).

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    Sources of occurrence records of reptile species used in the present study (A), sampling hotspots (GiZ score > 1.0) and coldspots (GiZ score < −1.0), with significantly clustered or dispersed records based on Moran’s I values (dots) (B), and reptile species richness (numbers) with Shannon diversity (shading) (C) in Albania on a 10 × 10 km grid.

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    Altitudinal distribution of reptile species and frequency of occurrence records by altitude in Albania. Box-and-whiskers plots show the median (horizontal line), the 25th and 75th percentile (bottom and top of box, respectively), minimum and maximum values (lower and upper whiskers, respectively) and outliers (circles). The red line is the frequency distribution of altitudinal values in Albania.

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    Species presence and Shannon diversity as a function of the most important predictors identified by GLMM model selection (for abbreviations, see table 1).

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