Using ecological niche modeling to predict the distributions of two endangered amphibian species in aquatic breeding sites

Lior Blank, Leon Blaustein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amphibians are among the most threatened taxonomic groups worldwide. A fundamental step in species conservation is identifying the habitat requirements of the target species. However, this determination can often be problematic in endangered species because, by definition, they often only occupy a very limited number of sites. Moreover, when found, they are often in low abundance, and thus their detectability is low, yielding false "absence" data. Maximum entropy niche modeling provides a tool using only the presence data to predict potential habitat distributions of endangered species whose distributions have become highly limited. We provide two examples in the current study for the fire salamander, Salamandra infraimmaculata, and the green toad, Bufo viridis. S. infraimmaculata is considered endangered in Israel and near endangered worldwide. B. viridis is classified as locally endangered in Israel. Soil type was the most important predictor of the distribution of S. infraimmaculata and, to a lesser extent, also predicted the distribution of B. viridis. In addition, S. infraimmaculata larvae were also associated with high elevation areas. B. viridis was negatively associated with distance to urban areas and low solar radiation level. The potential distribution maps determined for S. infraimmaculata and B. viridis can help in planning future wetland use management around its existing populations, discovering new populations, identifying top-priority survey sites, or set priorities to restore its natural habitat for more effective conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This study was funded by ISF grant 961-2008 awarded to Leon Blaustein and Shirli Bar-David and a scholarship provided by the Israel Council for Higher Education awarded to Lior Blank. The authors thank Miska Luoto, Rami Zaidenberg, Asaf Sadeh, and Arik Kershenbaum for fruitful discussions, two anonymous reviewers for improving the manuscript, and Ori Segev for valuable help in fieldwork. Field surveys of S. infraimmaculata and B. viridis larvae were conducted with permission from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (permit 2009/36565).


  • Bufo viridis
  • Maxent
  • Salamandra infraimmaculata
  • Small sample size
  • Species distribution model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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