Atlas of the amphibians and reptiles of northern Morocco: updated distribution and patterns of habitat selection
Observational data collected from bibliography and during herpetological surveys in northern Morocco between 1989 and 2014 were plotted to generate updated distribution maps of amphibians and reptiles using a UTM 5 x 5 km grid system. Eleven amphibians and 53 reptiles were observed, including three amphibians and nine reptiles endemic to Morocco. In both taxonomic groups, three distinct species categories were identified in the area: widely distributed species, species restricted to particular environmental characteristics, and species with small and / or fragmented distributions. For total species richness, 10 areas of high diversity were identified. These areas were common to all taxonomic groups and correspond roughly to Mediterranean-type habitats. Amphibians constitute a relatively homogeneous group according to their habitat selection patterns while reptiles can be grouped in three assemblages: 1) generalist species with broad distributions in northern Morocco; 2) species occupying Mediterranean environments, generally abundant in the north-western region; and 3) species that occupy arid habitats, frequently found in the eastern region. The topographic complexity of northern Morocco apparently creates microenvironmental conditions for each group and is related to high levels of species diversity observed: 78% and 52% of the total number of amphibians and reptiles of Morocco, respectively. These findings strengthen the status of northern Morocco as a priority area for herpetofauna conservation at the national level.