Document Type : Original Article

Authors

1 Department of Fisheries and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources and Earth Sciences, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord 8818634141

2 Department of Fisheries and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources and Earth Sciences, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord, Iran

Abstract

Habitat loss, fragmentation, and alteration are among the most critical threats to freshwater pond turtles. There is scarce data on the distribution of suitable habitats and landscape connectivity of pond turtles in Iran. In this study, the maximum entropy algorithm (MaxEnt) was used to predict the habitat suitability of the Caspian pond turtle (Mauremys caspica) in Chaharmahal va Bakhtiari province in the Central Zagros Mountains, Southwest Iran. Our findings showed that 10.46% (1729 km2) of the study area could be considered as suitable habitat for the Caspian pond turtle. In contrast, only about 6.23% (107.72 km2) of these suitable habitats are covered by conservation areas. Distance to the river (43.6%), distance to agricultural lands (14.5%), and minimum temperature of the coldest month (Bio6) (11.2%) were identified as the most important variables contributing to habitat selection by the species. The findings showed that while there is relatively good connectivity between many habitat patches, weak connectivity was predicted between some habitat patches. This study emphasizes the conservation priorities focusing on habitat protection, facilitating the movement of individuals between habitat patches and habitat connectivity.

Keywords