The nonmarine mammal fauna of the Maghreb region of north-west Africa is related to that from three potential source areas: the northern Palaearctic (Europe and south-west Asia; here referred to as the European fauna), subsaharan Africa (the African fauna) and the arid Palaearctic (Sahara Desert: the desert fauna).
On the basis of geographical distribution patterns, this fauna divisible into two groups: the bats, whose affinities are most closely related to southern Europe and south-west Asia, and nonflying species, most closely related to subsaharan Africa but with an appreciable northern Palaearctic element. These affinities are even more pronounced if desert fauna are removed from the analysis.
The nonflying European fauna probably colonized via south-west Asia and north Africa, rather than direct from western Europe.
The results demonstrate that terrestrial habitat barriers are less of an impediment to dispersal, for all mammals except bats, than even narrow stretches of water.
The fauna of the Maghreb may be undergoing faunal relaxation, following immigration from tropical Africa and south-west Asia during mesic phases in the Late Pleistocene and early Holocene.