Predicting habitat suitability of sand cat (Felis margarita) using Bayesian network approach

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Environment, Faculty of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan , Iran

2 Department of Range and Watershed Management, Faculty of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan , Iran


Sand cat Felis Margarita (Felidae) is a small cat distributed in deserts of North Africa, Arabia, Central Asia, Pakistan and central Iran. This species is listed as Least Concern (LC) by IUCN and categorized on appendix II of the CITES. Successful conservation of this species demands for a comprehensive understanding of its habitat requirements. In this study, a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) habitat suitability model was developed for sand cat through a practice of knowledge elicitation, calibration, sensitivity analysis and verification. Denning possibility, prey density, distance to Haloxylon woods, and soil stability were recognized as the most important variables determining habitat suitability of sand cat. Overall accuracy of the model was calculated at 96.7% using 120 presence/absence points collected across the species habitat in eastern Isfahan province. The results of model evaluation by sensitivity analysis and using data from fieldwork showed that the prepared model works well to determine habitat suitability. The results of this model not only combined the expert opinion and quantitative data obtained from land use maps, but also provided a good basis for use in adaptive management for the management of sand cat habitats.


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