The conservation status of a poorly known range-restricted mammal, the Nimba otter-shrew Micropotamogale lamottei

05 Aug 2020

We have a poor understanding of the ecology of many African small mammals due to a lack of basic research. This has important conservation implications, particularly for range-restricted species in tropical regions. In this study, we provide new insight into the distribution and ecology of one such species, the Nimba otter-shrew (Micropotamogale lamottei Heim de Balsac 1954). We apply niche and occupancy modeling to inform on the range and habitat use of this semi-aquatic species. We estimate that its global range [extent of occurrence (EOO)] is 14,725 km2. Using occupancy modeling, we show that mining has a direct impact on the occurrence of this species. We also provide preliminary observations of its movements through radio-tracking. Using maximum entropy (Maxent) modeling, we identify the North Lorma National Forest and the Wonegizi range (northern Liberia) that appear suitable for this species, but where it has not yet been recorded. We suggest that the Nimba otter-shrew has a global distribution centered on the Mount Nimba region, straddling the borders of Liberia, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, and that it requires urgent conservation attention to ensure its long-term persistence. Finally, we provide evidence to support an uplisting of its IUCN Red List conservation status to Vulnerable.