Document Type : Original Article
Associated Professor Department of Environmental Science
This study was carried out to assess the habitat suitability for panther and the effective factors affecting its distribution in Golestan Province of Iran using the Maximum Entropy Model. The Maximum Entropy Model was selected for it gives good results when applied to large areas. We recorded 193 points of presence for panther in different areas of Golestan Province and considered eleven environmental variables in habitat modeling. Assessment of correlation among variables showed no correlation above 0.9 among the selected variables. Ruggedness with a contribution percentage of 33.2 and a permutation importance of 4.8 was the most important factor in determining the panther’s habitat suitability. Distance from preys with a contribution percentage of 28.7 and a permutation importance of 60.2, altitude with a contribution percentage of 4.4 and a permutation importance of 3.5, slope with a contribution percentage of 3.8 and a permutation importance of 1.6 and vegetation with a contribution percentage of 6.5 and a permutation importance of 0.8 were the other effective factors affecting the distribution of panther. Our results showed that the suitable habitat of panthers in Golestan Province was located generally at an altitude of 2100 meters a.s.l. and on slopes between 20 and 40 percent. In addition, we found that the model has an acceptable predictability with an AUC of 0.972.