Assessing distribution and conservation potential for the Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) in Argentina

Alejandro Alberto Schaaf, Daniela Gomez, Ever Tallei, Luis Osvaldo Rivera, Natalia Politi, Griet A.E. Cuyckens


The Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata, Anatidae) is a waterbird with a wide distribution in America, reaching Argentina at its southernmost limit, where the species was categorized as threatened. In this study, we develop a species distribution model to analyze habitat suitability for the species in Argentina and assess its potential for geographic conservation in the country. Results show that northern Argentina offers environmentally suitable habitats for the species. At present, the Muscovy duck is not adequately protected in Argentina and although a quarter of its suitable habitat has already been lost due to human-induced changes in land-cover, the country still has a conservation potential since we have detected suitable habitats inside protected areas, where the species has not been previously recorded, and the species dependence on water lines offer additional conservation opportunities. We suggest carrying out conservation actions outside the current system of protected areas, in areas with high habitat suitability, and along water lines, involving private owners in conservation actions. There is also a need for further field research to confirm the duck’s presence in the potential areas and to reveal more detailed ecological information about its habitat needs.

Keywords: suitable habitat, potential distribution models, waterbirds, threatened birds, anatidae, MaxEnt.

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