Identifying the migration routes of species between the different habitats is essential for development of conservation strategies in the face of climate change at landscape scale (Bennett, 2003). Maintaining connectivity in the short to medium-term, provides possibility of dispersal, access to suitable habitats, seasonal migration and dynamics of the metapopulations, and in the long-term, ensure connectivity between appropriate habitat patches to support movements in response to climate change (McRae et al 2008). In Iran, conservation and management of wildlife populations have mostly relied on protection of areas where the species of interest occurs, and little effort has been allocated to ensuring connectivity between appropriate habitat patches to support seasonal movements.
In this study, we identified and evaluated migration corridors for vulnerable ungulate species, wild sheep (Ovis orientalis) between Haftad Gholleh protected area in Markazi Province, and Mooteh wildlife refuge in Isfahan Province as a conservation strategy in the face of climate change. For modelling the habitat suitability of study area, the Biomod2 Package were applied. Both bioclimatic variables and topographic variables and 8 modeling approaches (GLM, GAM, GBM, MARS, RF, SRE, MAXENT, FDA (were used (Farhadinia et al, 2015).
The circuit theory was applied to evaluate habitats connectivity for wild sheep (Ovis orintallis isfahanica) between the two habitats in semi-arid areas of central Iran (McRae, 2006). Based on current maps, movement patterns and, functional connectivity for target species was evaluated. furthermore, area important for connectivity across the study area was identified.
The results showed that maximum connectivity (lowest resistance) is most pronounced only in one rout, however near Haftad Ghole protected area, there are several high current paths with the highest habitat suitability.
The results of this study and the identified important connectivity routs can be used for designation of the areas for connectivity conservation to maintain landscape connectivity in protected areas network.
Key words: corridor, migration, Biomod2 Package, circuit theory, climate change.
Bennett, A.F., 2003. Linkage in the landscape: The role of corridors and connectivity in the wildlife conservation. IUCN. Gland. Switzerland and cambrige. UK.
Farhadinia, M.; Ahmadi, M.; Sharbafi, E.; Khosravi, S.; Alinezhad, H. and Macdonald, D., 2015. Leveraging trans-boundary conservation partnershio: Persistence of Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in the Iranian Caucasus. Biological Conservation 191: 770-778.
McRae, BH.; Dickson, BG.; Keitt, TH. and Shah, VB., 2008. Using circuit theory to model connectivity in ecology, evolution, and conservation. Ecology:2712–2724.
McRae. B.H., 2006. Isolation by resistance. Evolution 60:1551-1561.