Prediction of Kashmir markhor habitat suitability in Chitral Gol National Park, Pakistan (2012)

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The Kashmir markhor, Capra falconeri cashmiriensis, is classified as endangered throughout its range because of habitat loss, unsustainable hunting and competition with domestic livestock. We investigated environmental factors influencing species distribution in Chitral Gol National Park (CGNP) based on the ?presence-only? dataset and predicted the potential distribution of markhor in order to compute a habitat suitability (HS) map using ecological niche factor analysis (ENFA). Kashmir markhor presence-only data was recorded for a period of four years during 2003?2007 from 487 point locations in summer, spring and winter. The geographical position of animals and the related topographic and habitat variables were used to accurately assess species occurrence within the study area and to predict its distribution. ENFA is used to describe distribution patterns and to identify key variables influencing the ecological niche of markhor. The ENFA model revealed that markhor occurred at a mean elevation of 2818?m with a mean slope of 33.4°. The species requirements seem different from the average habitat conditions available in the study area. Whereas the specialisation factor indicated some specific habitat requirements of markhor, it was found that they still occupied a wider ecological niche. The model suggested that markhor avoid higher elevations but showed a strong relationship with comparatively steep slopes. ENFA computed 25% of the area of CGNP under suitable and optimal conditions for the long-term existence of Kashmir markhor in CGNP. ENFA computed a HS map for markhor showing its widespread distribution within the study area. Steep slopes and a lower to medium elevation range were mostly preferred by markhor.
Year: 2012
Language: English
In: Biodiversity, 1-10 p.

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 Record created 2012-05-24, last modified 2013-01-17