Amphibian diversity in Neotropical mountains habitats is at risk, particularly those species associated with stream habitats at altitudes >500 m above sea level (a.s.l.). This pertains especially to the amphibian diversity of Mexico, where the number of species is high on the central and southwestern highlands. In the present study, we predicted the potential distribution of Ambystoma ordinarium using a Geographic Information System modeling approach. We used survey data from 2013 to 2015 and historical data reported in databases and literature, and employed environmental variables from the WorldClim–Global Climate Data Project. Our results indicate that a single factor, Mean Diurnal Range, contributed most to the model, followed by other factors (Minimum Temperature of the Coldest Month and Precipitation of the Driest Month). The conservative predicted distribution was 5256 km2, especially in areas have dynamic aquatic ecosystems (e.g., small streams). The highest probability of occurrence of the species at locations of 1900–2900 m a.s.l., with 13.7–16.3°C diurnal terrestrial air temperatures, and annual precipitation of 829–1454 mm. In these areas, native forest vegetation has decreased by almost 250 km2, and native grassland by 280 km2. Agricultural activities, human settlements, and secondary succession vegetation increased by 160, 120, and 330 km2, respectively. We infer that A. ordinarium is susceptible to changes in habitat, with most of the constraint on the distribution of this species arising from deforestation, increased urbanization and agricultural activities. Based on our model, and a recent genetic study, we suggest that the population of this species from lower elevations could be considered a different taxon. Consequently, the relative species distribution boundaries should be redefined, and appropriate monitoring programs redesigned to support conservation of the Michoacan stream salamander.
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Vol. 74 • No. 2