Historical distribution of European badgers in Portugal based on toponymy

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  • Sep, 2016

Rosalino, L.M., Verdade, L.M. & Santos–Reis, M. (2016) Historical distribution of European badgers in Portugal based on toponymy. Badgers: systematics, biology, conservation and research techniques (ed. by G. Prouxl and E. Do Linh San), pp. 151-160. Alpha Wildlife Publications.


The area occupied by a species is not only the result of present-day conditions, but also a mirror of the cumulative, historical landscape changes caused by natural events (e.g., fires) and anthropogenic processes (e.g., land use modifications). The relation between men and the landscape is often reflected on the denomination of particular areas (e.g., mountains) using plant/animal common names (or variations thereof), which might be used to assess species historical distributions. The present study aimed to assess the historical distribution of the European badger (Meles meles) in Continental Portugal, based on the toponymy (taxonomic study of place names). Using the databases available at the Portuguese Geographical Institute (Instituto Geográfico Português – IGP), we collected the geographical location of all place names that could be related with badgers’ presence. In total, 107 place names were identified, ranging from the south coastal region (Algarve) to the northern areas (Minho and Trás-osMontes), and from the western coast to the eastern border with Spain. This data corroborates the common belief that this mesocarnivore was historically widespread throughout Portugal and, according to some recent but not systematic surveys, it has maintained its distribution
without any detectable geographic contraction.