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Landscape connectivity for two sympatric carnivores in central Iran
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  • Sahar Rezaei,
  • Alireza Mohammadi,
  • Samuel A Cushman,
  • Roberta Bencini,
  • Thomas Rooney,
  • Morteza Naderi
Sahar Rezaei

Corresponding Author:sahar.rezaei2@yahoo.com

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Alireza Mohammadi
Department of Environmental Sciences and engineering, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Jiroft, Jiroft, Iran.
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Samuel A Cushman
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Roberta Bencini
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Thomas Rooney
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Morteza Naderi
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Central Iran supports a diversity of carnivores, most of which are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. Carnivore conservation requires the identification and preservation of core habitats and ensuring connectivity between them. In the present study, we applied species distribution modeling to predict habitat suitability and used connectivity modeling to predict linkage (resistant kernel and factorial least-cost path analyses) for grey wolf and golden jackal in central Iran. For grey wolf, elevation, topographic roughness and distance from agriculture lands were the strongest predictors; however, for golden jackal, distance from agriculture lands, human settlements and topographic roughness were the most influential variables in predicting the occurrence of this species. Our results also indicated a high potential for large parts of the landscape to support the occurrence of these two canid species. The largest and the most crucial core habitats and corridor paths for the conservation of both species are located in the southern part of the study landscape. We found a small overlap between golden jackal corridor paths and core habitats with protected areas, which has important implications for conservation and future viability of the golden jackal populations. Some sections of core areas are bisected by roads, where most vehicle collisions with grey wolf and golden jackal occurred. We propose that effective conservation of both species would require integrated landscape-level management to reduce mortality risk, as well as protection of core areas and corridors and development of mitigation strategies to reduce vehicle collisions.