Having knowledge of the habitat requirements of top predators is important for their conservation and also for the stability of wildlife communities since they are keystone species of ecosystems. This study aims to predict suitable habitats for the Persian leopard (Panther pardus saxicolor, Pocock 1927) in Tandooreh National Park, Iran. This species is the largest leopard subspecies in the Middle East and is at high risk of extinction. Presence points for the species have been obtained from field data, literature review, atlas data, and IUCN records. Variables related to human disturbance, terrain, land use/land cover, and the leopards’ prey were used to predict the habitat selection of the Persian leopard by employing binary logistic regression. Our model predicted that the presence of Persian leopards is restricted to the southern, north-western, and western areas of the park which are under severe fragmentation threat. Moreover, leopards avoided areas near human development such as roads. We have also found that the availability of prey such as Capra aegagrus, Ovis vignei, and Ovis orientalis is one of the important parameters to predict habitat suitability for leopards. Our model provides a suitable tool for national park managers to identify biodiversity hotspots since leopards are often associated with high biodiversity.
- Binary logistic regression
- Tandooreh National Park