Assessing Regional Habitat Changes for the Persian fallow deer (Dama dama mesopotamicus) usingMaximumEntropymodeling approach in Khouzestan province, Iran

Document Type : Original Research Paper



This study was conducted in Dez and Karkheh regions in southwestern Iran to model habitat
suitability of the Persian fallow deer Dama dama mesopotamicus and assessing trend of habitat changes since
1989. A total of 22 confirmed presence records of the species were collected from 1988 to 2003. MaxEnt
approach was used to develop habitat suitability model with regards to nine environmental variables, including
density of farmlands, forests, and disturbed forests, density of livestock, vegetation, residential areas and
distance to the forest edge, residential areas, protected areas and frequency of surface water bodies. After
validation of the model for all parameters used for 1989, relative developed map was extrapolated to the
habitat conditions in 2007. Comparing the habitat suitability maps developed for 1989 and 2007 reveals that
area of suitable habitats for the Persian fallow deer has declined by 30% within 18 years. A total of 1000 ha of
forests (within suitable habitats for the species) has been degraded. About 100 ha of these habitats were
converted to farmlands and less than 0.5 ha was altered to the residential areas. In addition, area of about 1000
ha has lost the suitability without any land use changes. Currently, reintroduction of the Persian fallow deer to
the area is under consideration by Department of Environment of Iran. Therefore, results of this study are
recommended for choosing reintroduction sites based on the predicted suitable maps to enhance the probability
of survival for reintroduced individuals.