2022-11-10Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1111/ddi.13645
Large carnivore range expansion in Iberia in relation to different scenarios of permeability of human‐dominated landscapes
Aim Large carnivores are currently recolonizing parts of their historical ranges in Europe after centuries of persecution and habitat loss. Understanding the mechanisms driving these recolonizations is important for proactive conservation planning. Using the brown bear (Ursus arctos) and the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) as examples, we explore where and when large carnivores are likely to expand into human-dominated landscapes and how varying levels of resistance due to human pressure might impact this recolonization process. Location Iberian Peninsula. Methods We used ensembles of species distribution models to relate species occurrence data to climate, topography and satellite-based land-cover predictors at a 10 km spatial resolution. Resulting predictions of suitable habitat areas were fed into a dispersal model to simulate range expansion over the 10 time-steps for different human pressure scenarios. Finally, we overlaid predictions with protected areas to highlight areas that are likely key for future connectivity, but where human pressures might hamper dispersal. Results We found widespread suitable habitat for both species (bear: 30,000 km2, lynx: 170,000 km2), yet human pressure limits potential range expansions. For brown bears, core habitats between the Cantabrian and Pyrenean populations remained unconnected despite suitable habitat in between. For lynx, we predicted higher range expansion potential, although high human pressures in southern coastal Spain negatively affected expansion potential. Main conclusions Our results highlight that the recolonization potential of brown bears and lynx in the Iberian Peninsula is likely more constrained by lower permeability of landscapes due to human pressure than by habitat availability, a situation likely emblematic for large carnivores in many parts of the world. More generally, our approach provides a simple tool for conservation planners and managers to identify where range expansion is likely to occur and where proactively managing to allow large carnivores to safely disperse through human-dominated landscapes can contribute to viable large carnivore populations.