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Abstract

In México, 63% of the mammalian carnivore species are considered threatened. Therefore, we performed a prioritization exercise to find sets of areas needed for the conservation of Mexican terrestrial carnivores. Using a grid of half-degree cells, we mapped the distribution of richness, endemic and threaten species. Then, we determine the efficiency of the natural protected areas in México for protecting carnivores. Finally, we define optimal sets of complementary cells needed to represent all species either one or five times, or to represent at least 10% of the geographic distribution range of each carnivore in México. We perform this analysis including or excluding the existing protected areas, or excluding the top 10% cells with highest human population density (HPD). Species richness was higher in south-eastern México, threatened species concentrate in the same region, and also in the Yucatan's Peninsula. The Baja California Peninsula and the central region of the Mexican Plateau is where lower richness and numbers of threatened species are found. There is only one endemic carnivore distributed in the central and southern portion of the Pacific Slope. Complementary analysis showed that sets of three, 16 and 71 cells are required to represent one time, five times or at least 10% of the total distribution range of all species. Sets of 35 cells are needed to complement the natural protected areas to achieve this last representation goal. Finally, if cells with highest HPD are excluded, sets of three, 14 and 71 cells are needed to achieve our three representation goals. Our results provide insight into the ability of different sites to contribute to the representation of carnivore diversity at the national scale, and indicate gaps in the existing protected area network.