Habitat selection by Ovis orientalies isphahanica: case study of Mouteh Wild life Refuge



Ovis orientalis isphahanica has a restricted geographical range and is listed as vulnerable by IUCN. However, there is not enough data on habitat associations of this taxon to be used as a base for conservation programmes. Use of vegetation communities by Isfahan mouflon in Mouteh Wildlife Refuge was studied over a one-year period. Habitat use was related to vegetation communities and habitat variables by pellet-group clearance transects conducted every 45 days from June 2006 to June 2007 in the core zone of Mouteh W.R. The collected data in each season was analyzed using general linear models. No significant difference was found in use of unlike habitats by wild sheep in any of the four seasons. However, within two of the three habitat types, pattern of habitat use significantly differed between seasons. Regression analyses showed a positive relationship between pellet group density and altitude in summer and a negative relationship between these two variables in spring. Pellet group density was also negatively associated with distance to water sources in summer. Standing crop pellet group count carried out in the second core zone of Mouteh W.R. in winter 2007 produced similar results.