Journal Article

Wagering with an Incomplete Deck—Refining Conservation Plans for the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus luteus luteus)

Date: 2023/06/06

Author(s): Malaney J.L., Wilford C.R., Woods J.T., Christman B.L., Jennings R.D., Chambers C.L., Zahratka J.L., Liphardt S.W., Demboski J.R., Cook J.A.

Publication: Journal of Mammalogy, v. 104, p. 1019-1035


DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyad049


Limited sampling for imperiled taxa inhibits effective management by obscuring windows into ecological and evolutionary processes and ultimately thwarting thoughtful conservation efforts. We report eight new locations for the endangered New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus luteus luteus) detected across three states that expand their known distribution. When combined with existing curated museum records, we develop an ensemble species distribution model to evaluate persistence of populations over the next 50 years. Predicted distributions indicate complex future changes, including regional expansion and the likelihood that half of the designated critical habitat areas will be unsuitable by 2070. Three of the newly discovered populations occur where predicted climate conditions suggest extirpation is likely. Importantly, indices of historical sampling efforts show that recognized and potential distributions are mismatched, highlighting vast areas that have been insufficiently surveyed. Ongoing habitat degradation and climate disruption are projected to synergistically erode genetic diversity across four of the five divergent phylogroups. Considering these combined results, a holistic sampling strategy is needed to more completely document the distribution of jumping mice and facilitate genomic analyses aimed at establishing a roadmap for improving our understanding of geographic variation and adaptive potential. Current management efforts are not only costly, but they are lacking key biological insights, essentially wagering actions with an incomplete deck of cards.