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The work of a team of researchers from CIBIO-InBIO’s BIODESERTS Group on the biodiversity of mountain rock pools in deserts was published in the latest issue of PLOS ONE. The main goal of this study was to assess the importance of “gueltas” as local biodiversity hotspots in the Sahara-Sahel region.


In order to proceed with this assessment, researchers quantified the number of vertebrate species from each taxonomic group and of endemics present in 69 Mauritanian gueltas. Then, they compared these results with species in the surrounding areas and whose occurrence has been recorded in the country. By subjecting the data gathered to thorough statistical analyses, gueltas were ranked by their priority for conservation according to the percentage of endemics and threats posed to each guelta.


When asked about the results of the study and its importance, researchers explained that the richness of species and of endemics present in 69 gueltas of Mauritania suggests that within a mere aggregate extent of 43 ha, gueltas hold about 32% and 78% of the total taxa analyzed and endemics of Mauritania, respectively. Furthermore, they added that droughts and human activities threaten gueltas, while 64% of them are currently unprotected. Since gueltas are crucial for local biodiversity conservation and human activities, urgent management plans in Mauritania’s mountains are required to ensure their preservation. Furthermore, they could provide refuge under climate change being, making them important habitats for long-term conservation of the Sahara-Sahel biodiversity. Therefore, these are local hotspots of biodiversity deserving global attention.


This paper, which came about as a an output of Cândida Gomes Vale’s PhD work, was first and last authored by Cândida and by José Carlos Brito, respectively.



To access the original article, please follow the link below:


Vale CG, Pimm SL, Brito JC (2015) Overlooked mountain rock pools in deserts are critical local hotspots of biodiversity. PLoS ONE, 10, (2): e0118367. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118367

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