Diversity, distribution and conservation of land mammals in Mauritania, North-West Africa

Detailed knowledge about biodiversity distribution is critical for monitoring the biological effects of global change processes. Biodiversity knowledge gaps hamper the monitoring of conservation trends and they are especially evident in the desert biome. Mauritania constitutes a remarkable example on how remoteness and regional insecurity affect current knowledge gaps. Mammals remain one of the least studied groups in this country, without a concerted species checklist, the mapping of regions concentrating mammal diversity, or a
national assessment of their conservation status. This work assessed the diversity, distribution, and conservation of land mammals in Mauritania. A total of 6,718 published and original observations were assembled in a spatial database and used to update the occurrence status, distribution area, and conservation status. The updated taxonomic list comprises 107 species, including 93 extant, 12 Regionally Extinct, and 2 Extinct in the Wild. Mapping of species distributions allowed locating concentrations of extant mammal species richness in
coastal areas, along the Senegal River valley, and in mountain plateaus. Recent regional extinction of large-sized Artiodactyla and Carnivora has been very high (11% extinct species). From the extant mammals, 11% are threatened, including flagship species (e.g.,
Addax nasomaculatus and Panthera pardus). Species richness is poorly represented by the current protected areas. Despite the strong advances made, 23% of species categorise as Data Deficient. Persisting systematics and distribution uncertainties require further
research. Field surveys in currently unexplored areas (northern and south-eastern regions) are urgently needed to increase knowledge about threatened mammals. The long-term conservation of land mammals in Mauritania is embedded in a complex web of socioeconomic
and environmental factors that call for collaborative action and investment in sustainable human development. The current work sets the baseline for the future development of detailed research studies and to address the general challenges faced by mammals and biodiversity in the country

Publish DateAugust 12, 2022
Last UpdatedAugust 12, 2022