Factors determining "gaps" in the distribution of a small carnivore, the common genet (Genetta genetta), in central Spain

E. Virgós*, T. Romero, J. G. Mangas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied the pattern of distribution of the common genet (Genetta genetta) in areas in mountains and plains of central Spain, in the middle of the range of the species. We evaluated the role of temperature, rainfall, and habitat features in determining the ecological limits of genet distribution. Genets were very scarce on plateaux and the upper parts of the mountains, but were widely distributed in lower mountain areas. Genets were present in areas with abundant shrub cover, high mean of the mean minimum temperature and high mean of mean winter temperatures. Survey routes at the same altitude (<1000 m) in the mountains (genets abundant) and on the plateaux (genets very scarce) also differed in some of these variables, with low values on the plateaux for shrub cover, mean of the mean minimum temperatures, mean of the mean winter temperatures, and annual rainfall. Genets originated in Africa, therefore they are probably ill-adapted (morphologically and physiologically) for the cold conditions predominating in most of central Spain. Their preference for shrubby habitats may be linked to a greater availability of food and low risk of predation. Intermediate levels of rainfall may be correlated with higher temperatures, the key factor hypothesized to affect the distribution of this species. The distribution of the common genet fits a multimodal model, with peaks (presence) and valleys (absence) in the middle of its range, indicating that location in a particular part of the range is not a prior indicator of habitat suitability for the species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1544-1551
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2001
Externally publishedYes

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