Potential distribution of two subspecies of Montanoa tomentosa (Asteracerae) in Mexico. Abstract. Introduction: Montanoa tomentosa is a phytogenetic resource with medicinal properties used in Mexico. Despite its botanic relevance, the specific information of infraespecific taxa distributions and the environmental factors that influence their development is still limited. Objective: To report the potential geographic distribution and the environmental variables associated to ecological niches of two subspecies of M. tomentosa (M. tomentosa subsp. tomentosa and M. tomentosa subsp. xanthiifolia) in the Mexican territory. Methods: A database of herbarium records was created, an in situ systematic search of both subspecies was carried out from October 2015 to March 2016, during the flowering-fruiting season. After that, exploratory tours (Guanajuato, Querétaro, Hidalgo, Mexico City, State of Mexico, Puebla, Oaxaca and Chiapas) were realized. A total of 181 individuals were sampled and georeferenced, generating new records for the database upgrading. Three habitat suitability models (M. tomentosa complex, M. tomentosa subsp. tomentosa and M. tomentosa subsp. xanthiifolia) were generated using the MaxEnt software. These software estimates the probability of species distribution using geo-referenced data and environmental characteristics as predictors, through the maximum entropy logarithm and the Bayesian method. Results: From 22 environmental variables used as predictors, five (seasonality of temperature, isothermality, maximum temperature of the warmest month, precipitation of the warmest trimester and precipitation of the wettest trimester) contributed 70.2 % of the total percentage contribution. The model showed a potential distribution of 77 688 km2, approximately 4 % of the Mexican Republic territory. Both subspecies grew between 500 and 2 500 m. They were associated to xerophilous and heliophiles vegetation, sometimes they were located in the periphery or embed in openings of temperate and sub-humid forests too. They were not present dry regions from the North of the country. Conclusions: Temperature seasonality, isothermality and maximum temperature of the warmest month determine the distribution of the species. Precipitation of the warmest quarter and precipitation of wettest quarter defines the habitat between M. tomentosa subsp. tomentosa and M. tomentosa subsp. xanthiifolia. These findings clarify the ecological preferences and delimitation the infraspecific taxa of M. tomentosa.

Keywords: ecological niche, habitat suitability, heliophile, infraspecific taxa, MaxEnt, zoapatle