An integrative assessment of the diversity, phylogeny, distribution, and conservation of the terrestrial reptiles (Sauropsida, Squamata) of the United Arab Emirates
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Burriel-Carranza B, Tarroso P, Els J, Gardner A, Soorae P, Mohammed AA, et al. (2019) An integrative assessment of the diversity, phylogeny, distribution, and conservation of the terrestrial reptiles (Sauropsida, Squamata) of the United Arab Emirates. PLoS ONE 14(5): e0216273.
SponsorshipThis work was funded by grant CGL2015- 70390-P from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain (cofunded by FEDER) to SC, and grant 2017-SGR-00991 from the Secretaria d’Universitats i Recerca del Departament d’Economia i Coneixement de la Generalitat de Catalunya to SC. PT was funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) through post-doc grant (SFRH/BPD/93473/2013), financed by Programa Operacional Potencial Humano (POPH) – Quadro de Referência Estrategico Nacional (QREN) from the European Social Fund and Portuguese Ministerio da Educação e Ciência. HT and MSR were funded by FPI grants from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain (BES-2016-078341 and BES-2013-064248, respectively). JS was funded by the Czech Science Foundation (GACR, project number 18-15286Y) and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic (DKRVO 2018/14, National Museum, 00023272).
In the present study we use an unprecedented database of 5,535 distributional records to infer the diversity, ecological preferences and spatial distribution of the 60 species of terrestrial reptiles of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and use the 57 native species to test the effectiveness of the protected areas’ network in conserving this unique vertebrate fauna. We infer a time-calibrated phylogeny with 146 species of squamates and 15 genes including all UAE terrestrial reptile species to determine the phylogenetic diversity (PD) and evolutionary distinctiveness (ED) of the native species and to compare it with the distribution of the hotspots of native species richness. The results of this study indicate that the sampling effort is remarkable, covering 75% of the country’s territory representing nearly the entire climatic space of the UAE defined by the mean annual temperature and the total annual precipitation, as well as the multivariate climatic space defined by a principal component analysis (PCA). Species richness is highest in the northeast of the country, in a transitional area from sandy desert to the mountainous terrain of the Hajar Mountains. The highest PD of a single square cell of 10 arc-minutes grid is of 2,430 million years (my) of accumulated evolutionary history and the strong correlation between PD and species richness suggests that the raw number of species is a good surrogate to quantify the evolutionary history (i.e., PD).