Ecological modeling of land suitability to protect the threatened large mammals (Case study: Khorasan Razavi Province)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Environment, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment,, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

3 Department of Environment, Faculty of Natural Resources and Marine Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Noor, Iran


Evaluating ecological capability is of at most importance in preventing significant damages to natural and environmental resources in addition to its pivotal roles in ecosystem sustainability and sustainable development as well. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate the ecological capabilities of Khorasan Razavi Province for the conservation of key mammal species. Accordingly, eleven indices derived from nine general criteria including distance from roads, slope, elevation, vegetation density, geographical direction, distance from protected areas, distance from water sources, distance from residential and agricultural areas, were selected and evaluated. The relative importance of the indices was then determined using a hierarchical GIS environment. Based on the results, the slope was the most important driving force for the conservation of species such as the wild goat and wild sheep with the coefficients of 0.372 and 0.342, respectively while the elevation was detected as the most contributing factor for the species of the pallas’s cat, leopard, sand cat, and caracal with the coefficients of 0.227, 0.338, 0.228 and 0.332, respectively; The factors most determinant for the habitat suitability of the Asiatic cheetah, were the distance from agricultural and residential lands with a coefficient of 0.29 while for the goitered gazelle, the vegetation weighted the most with a coefficient of 0.311. In conclusion, the identified locations are recommendable to be included in the current conservation network


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