Modeling Focal-Species Habitat Suitability for Biodiversity Conservation Planning in the Southeastern Iran
Habitat suitability models for the focal species are used to address the concerns related to the limited availability of data for remote habitats by scrutinizing the relationship between the biodiversity distribution patterns and the natural-anthropogenic characteristics. The current study aimed at modeling habitat suitability for seven focal species including Asian black bear, Persian leopard, Persian ibex, Wild sheep, Chinkara, Asian houbara and Mugger in the southeastern Iran, by relying on Generalized Linear Model (GLM), Generalized Boosted Model (GBM), Random Forest (RF), and Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) models and using 10 physical, anthropogenical and land cover variables. Next, habitat suitability maps were overlaid with sensitive coastal habitats to delineate a final habitat suitability map. Based on our results, more than 34% of the region were identified as sensitive habitats which were mostly located along the coastline. These habitats demonstrated less than 15 percent spatial overlap with the current protected area network of the region. Moreover, a suitable connecting corridor extended in the east-west was identified, but it was neglected due to having lower suitability values in comparison to the central habitats and the focus of conservation objectives on the core habitat.