Evaluation and modelling of the Persian Leopard’s (Panthera pardus saxicolor) habitat suitability in the Gisakan area, Bushehr Province, Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 M.Sc. graduated, Bushehr Provincial Office of the Department of Environment (DOE), Bushehr, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Natural Resources, Sari Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources University, Sari, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Behbahan Khatam Alanbia University of Technology, Behbahan, Iran


Being at the top of the food pyramid, as a pioneer species, has led the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) to expose habitat degradation and prey reduction, in the recent years, in particular, necessitating the development of habitat conservation plans. In this study, habitat suitability modeling of the Persian Leopard was conducted using QGIS with only presence data as well as general linear model (GLM) with presence/absence data based on the binomial distribution, run in the R software. In QGIS, using topography, DEM, slope, and aspect maps as well as villages maps, the continuous population distribution map was delineated. The presence points, derived from field-working, were then inserted, and other mandatory layers were also collected and geo-rectified, where applicable. Afterward, each one of the layers was categorized and rasterized. Following the validation, the final suitability map of the Persian leopard was performed. In the GLM, simulations were generated using a full model with all variables and a leave-one-out procedure, gradually dropping the least contributing variable to form a minimal model. The results showed throughout the area, the most suitable habitats are scattered. Considering the substantial reduction in the preys population in Gisakan alongside the abundance of livestock, goats specifically, habitat suitability is largely increased near the rangelands and water resources. Furthermore, the habitats placed in northern aspects with > 1000 m height, slopes of 30-65%, 0 to 1000 meters distance to the roads, and 1000 to 2500 meters distance to the villages, showed higher suitability.


Abdollahi, S., 2015. Modeling habitat requirements of leopard (Panthera pardus) using genetic algorithm in Golestan National Park, Environmental Resources Research 3(2), 151–162.
Ahmadi, M., Tavakkoli, S., Kaboli, M., 2013. The Distribution of Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in Central of Iran and largescale effective factors in the distribution. First international conference on landscape ecology, Isfahan University of Technology, Iran.
Anderson, M.C., Watts, J.M., Freilich, J.E., Yool, S.R., Wakefield, G.I., Mccaulery, J.F., Fahnestock, A., 2000. Regression-tree modeling of desert tortoise habitat in the central Mojave. Ecological Applications 10, 890-900.
Athreya, V., Odden, M., Linnell, J.D., Karanth, K.U., 2011. Translocation as a tool for mitigating conflict with leopards in human dominated landscapes of India. Conservation Biology 25(1), 133–141.
Barua, M., Bhagwat, S.A., Jadhav, S., 2013. The hidden dimensions of human–wildlife conflict: Health impacts, opportunity and transaction costs. Biological Conservation 157, 309-316.
Bashir, T., Bhattacharya, T., Poudyal, K., Sathyakumar, S., Qureshi, Q., 2014. Integrating aspects of ecology and predictive modelling: implications for the conservation of the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) in the Eastern Himalaya. Acta Theriologica 59, 35-47.
Ebrahimi, A., Farashi, A., Rashki, A., 2017. Habitat suitability of Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in Iran in future. Environmental Earth Sciences, 76.
Edgaonkar, A., 2008. Ecology of the leopard (Panthera pardus) in Bori wildlife sanctuary and Satpura national park, India. PhD thesis. University of Florida. Florida,USA. 135 p.
Engler, R., Guisan, A., Rechsteiner, L., 2004. An improved approach for predicting the distribution of rare and endangered species from occurrence and pseudo-absence data. Journal of Applied Ecology 41, 263-274.
Erfanian, B., Mirkarimi, S.H., Mahini, A.S., Rezaei, H.R., 2013. A presence-only habitat suitability model for Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in Golestan National Park, Iran. Wildlife Biology 19(2), 170-178.
Farhadinia, M.S., Mahdavi, A., Hosseini-Zavarei, F., 2009. Reproductive ecology of the Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor), in Sarigol National Park, northeastern Iran: (Mammalia: Felidae). Zoology in the Middle East 48(1), 13-16.
Fattebert, J., Robinson, S., Balme, H., Slotow, G., Hunter, L., 2015. Structural habitat predicts functional dispersal habitat of a large carnivore: how leopards change spots. Ecological Applications 25(7), 1911–1921.
Farashi, A., Shariati, M., 2018. Evaluation of the role of the national parks for Persian leopard (Panther pardus saxicolor, Pocock 1927) habitat conservation (case study: Tandooreh National Park, Iran). Mammal Research 63, 1-8.
Farhadinia, M.S., Ahmadi, M., Sharbafi, E., Khosravi, S., Alinezhad, H., Macdonald, D.W., 2015. Leveraging trans-boundary conservation partnerships: Persistence of Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in the Iranian Caucasus. Biological Conservation 191, 770-778.
Gavashelishvili, A., Lukarevskiy, V., 2008. Modelling the habitat requirements of leopard (Panthera pardus) in west and central Asia. Journal of Applied Ecology 45(2), 579-588.
Gerrard, R., Stine, P., Church, R., Gilpin, M., 2001. Habitat evaluation using GIS, A case study applied to the San Joaquin Kit Fox. Landscape and Urban Planning 52, 239-255.
Ghoddousi, A., KhaleghiHamidi, A.M., Ghadirian, T., Ashayeri, D., Hamzehpour, M., Moshiri, H., Zohrabi, H., Julayi, L., 2008. Territorial marking by the Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor Pocock, 1927) in Bamu National Park, Iran. Zoology in the Middle East 44(1), 101-103.
Hemami, M. R., Esmaeili, S., Soffianian, A. R., 2015. Predicting the Distribution of Asiatic Cheetah, Persian Leopard and Brown Bear in Response to EnvironmentalFactors in Isfahan Province, Journal of Applied Ecology 4 (13) , 51-64.
Hirzel, A., Guisan, A., 2002. Which is the optimal sampling strategy for habitat suitability modeling. Ecological Modeling 157, 331-341.
Jacobson, A.P., Gerngross, P., Lemeris Jr, J.R., Schoonover, R.F., Anco, C., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Durant, S.M., Farhadinia, M.S., Henschel, P., Kamler, J.F., Laguardia, A., 2016. Leopard (Panthera pardus) status, distribution, and the research efforts across its range. PeerJ 4, e1974.
Jafari, A., Zamani, A. R., Mirzaei, R., 2018. Persian leopard and wild sheep distribution modeling using the Maxent model in the Tang-e-Sayad protected area, Iran. DE GRUYTER (Mammalia) 83(1), 1-13.
Jamalimanesh, A., Amooeian, A., Khosravi, R., Ansari, M., 2014. Modeling of Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) distribution in Bamou National Park with Maxent method. Second national conference on environmental planning, conservation and sustainable development, Shahid Beheshti University, Iran.
Khaleghzadeh beig, S., 2002. Signs and their application in mammal’s identification. Isfahan Jahad Daneshgahi publications, pp.88.
Khorozyan, I., Malkhasyan, A., Asmaryan, Sh., 2005. The Persian Leopard Prowls Its Way to Survival. Endangered Species Update 22(2), 51-60.
Khorozyan, I.G., Abramov A.V., 2007. The leopard, Panthera pardus, (Carnivora: Felidae) and its resilience to human pressure in the Caucasus. Zoology in the Middle East 41, 11-24.
Kiabi, B.H., Dareshouri, B.F., Ghaemi, R.A., Jahanshahi, M., 2002. Populationstatus of the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor Pocock, 1927) in Iran. Zoology in the Middle East 26, 41-47.
Lloyd, C.D., 2010. Local models for spatial analysis. CRC press.
Mack, E.L., Firbank, L.G., Bellary, P.E., Hinsleyand, S.A., Veitch, N., 1997. The comparison of remotelysensed and ground–based habitat area data using species–area models. Applid ecology 34, 1222-1228.
Martin, D., 2006. Gridded population data for the UK–redistribution models and applications. UK conference proceeding.
Mondal, K., Sankar, K., Qureshi, Q., 2013. Factors influencing the distribution of leopard in a semiarid landscape of Western India. ActaTheriologica 58, 179-187.
Naderi, M., Farashi, A., Erdi, M.A., 2018. Persian leopard's (Panthera pardus saxicolor) unnatural mortality factors analysis in Iran. PloS one 13(3), e0195387.
Obeidavi, Z., Rangzan, K., Mirzaei, R., Kabolizade, M., Amini, A., 2017. Wildlife Habitats Suitability Modelling using Fuzzy Inference System: A Case Study of Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in Shimbar Protected Area, Journal of Applied Ecology 6 (1) :57-67.
Omidi, M., Kaboli, M., Karami, M., Salman Mahiny, A.R., Hassanzade Kiabi, B., 2010. Analyzing and Modeling Spatial Distribution of Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in Kolahghazi National Park, Isfahan Province of Iran, Journal of Environmental Sciences and Technology 12(1), 137.
Pausas, G.J., Braithwaite,W.L., Austin, M.P., 1995. Modelling habitat quality for arboreal marsupials in the South Coastal forests of New South Wales, Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 78, 39-49.
Roohi, H., Hasti, F., Salman Mahiny, A.R., 2014. Determination of potential and probability of Persian leopard presence between Golestan National Park and Koshyeilagh wildlife refuge with AHP and MCE methods, Second international conference on modern insights in agricultural, natural and environmental sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Sanei, A., Zakaria, M., Hermidas, S, 2011. Prey composition in the Persian leopard distribution range in Iran. Asia Life Sciences Supplement 7, 19-30.
Sanei, A., Mousavi, M., Zakaria, M. 2012. Assessment of the Persian leopard mortality rate in Iran. In Proceedings of UMT 11th International Annual Symposium on Sustainability Science and Management Edited by: B. Arifin, S. N. Afifah.
Shoaee, A., Gholipour, M., Rezaei, H.R., Yarmohammadi babrbarestani, S., 2017. Assess habitat suitability Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor, Pocock 1927) based on maximum entropy method (Maxent) during the summer and fall in the National Park Tandooreh, Iran. Journal of Animal Environment 9(1), 21-30.
Vereschagin, N.K., 1959. Mammals of the Caucasus. The history of formation of the fauna. USSR Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow, Leningrad. (In Russian)
Vesali, S.F., Varasteh Moradi, H., Salman Mahiny, A.R., 2016. A review of the most important of habitat variables on the Persian leopard habitat suitability. Second international conference on modern insights in agriculture, environment and tourism, Ardebil, Iran.