Global Warming and Long-Distance Spread of Invasive Discoglossus pictus (Amphibia, Alytidae): Conservation Implications for Protected Amphibians in the Iberian Peninsula

Discoglossus pictus is a North African amphibian that was introduced in southern France early in the 20th century and has spread south and north along the Mediterranean coastal plains up to 170 km. Many studies have demonstrated that D. pictus competes against native species with similar breeding strategies, pointing out abiotic conditions as the main driver tipping the balance in favor of one or another species. This study aims to assess the impact of the spread of D. pictus on native Iberian Discoglossus and other native species, analyzing the potential roles of long-distance dispersal and long-term climate warming in the Iberian Peninsula. The study area covers the western Mediterranean region, including all Discoglossus species in northwestern Africa, Sicily, the Iberian Peninsula, and southern France. Our results show a strong climatic niche overlap between D. pictus and targeted species in the Iberian Peninsula, including endemic Discoglossus species. Future projections of climatic change suggest that climatic suitability will increase for all species, both inside and outside the Natura 2000 network, with the only exception being a moderate and widespread decrease for Pelodytes punctatus. However, these positive trends are reversed within Natura 2000 sites where most species are explicitly targeted, jeopardizing the effectiveness of protected areas in a long-distance dispersal scenario ​
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