Biogeographical evaluation and conservation assessment of arboreal leafhoppers in the Mexican Transition Zone biodiversity hotspot

Jorge Adilson Pinedo-Escatel, Juvenal Aragón-Parada, Christopher H. Dietrich, Gustavo Moya-Raygoza, James N. Zahniser, Liberato Portillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Mexico harbours a diverse fauna comprising more than 1,400 leafhopper species, 60% of which appear to be strictly endemic, with many apparently restricted to particular habitats and host plants. The aims of this study were to identify areas of high species richness and endemism, and determine the biogeographic affinities of species in the diverse arboreal tribe Athysanini to provide data useful for conservation prioritization. Location: Mexico. Methods: A data set of 643 historical occurrence records based on authoritatively identified specimens from museums, recent fieldwork, literature and digital repositories was analysed. Analyses of species richness and areas of endemism were conducted using geographic information systems. Results: A total of 164 species belonging of 50 genera were included, of which 145 species of 31 genera are considered to be endemic. The Mexican state of Guerrero yielded the most species records (48%). The highest numbers of taxa and endemic species were concentrated along the Mexican Transition Zone (MTZ) within which the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (TVB) province had the most species records. Endemicity analyses showed two different geographical patterns but similar species richness weights with overlapping values over the MTZ. Distribution across vegetation types was not uniform, with most athysanine species concentrated in the dry tropical forest (65%). Species were documented at elevations between sea level and 3,200 m a.s.l. with three altitudinal preference classes. Conservation assessments applying IUCN criteria categorized a majority of species (145) as endangered or critically endangered. Main conclusions: Our findings suggest that most identified areas of high species richness throughout the territory have predominantly endemic taxa. Distributional patterns found are non-random, influenced by richness and endemism values over the TVB province and in the MTZ with a variable dispersion among species. Data highlight a greatly threatened status by habitat loss, remarking an urgent need for an improved conservation framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1065
Number of pages15
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Auchenorrhyncha
  • Cicadellidae
  • Mexico
  • distribution
  • endangered species
  • sap-sucking insects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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