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Smeraldo S, Di Febbraro M, Ćirović D, Bosso L, Trbojević I, Russo D (2017)
Species distribution models as a tool to predict range expansion after reintroduction: A case study on Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber)
Journal for Nature Conservation.
Species Distribution Models (SDMs) may provide important information for the follow-up phase of reintroduction operations by identifying the main areas most likely to be colonized by the reintroduced species. We used SDMs to identify the potential distribution of Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) reintroduced to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2004–2006 after being historically driven to extinction by overhunting. Models were also used to carry out a gap analysis to assess the degree of protection granted by the national reserve networks to the potentially expanding population. Distances from hydrographic network, broadleaved forest, main watercourses and farmland were the main factors influencing model performance. We estimated that suitable habitat covers 14.0% (31,000 km2) of the whole study area. In Serbia, in 2004–2013 beavers expanded their range at a mean colonization speed of 70.9 ± 12.8 km/year (mean ± SD). Only 2.89% of and 9.72% of beaver’s suitable habitat lie within the national network of protected areas of Bosnia and Serbia respectively. We detected new potential areas where beavers will likely settle in the near future, advising on where further monitoring should be focused. We also identified low suitability areas to be targeted with appropriate management to improve their conditions as well as important regions falling outside reserve boundaries where protection should be granted.
Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Conservation gap analyses, Habitat suitability, Riparian habitats, Serbia