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A Step Towards Conserving Biodiversity in Human-Dominated Landscapes: Habitat Evaluation for Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in North-Western Pakistan

A Step Towards Conserving Biodiversity in Human-Dominated Landscapes: Habitat Evaluation for Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in North-Western Pakistan

Romaan Hayat Khattak1, Shakeel Ahmed2, Liwei Teng1,3* and Zhensheng Liu1,3*

1 College of Wildlife and Protected Areas, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, P.R. China
2Carnivore Conservation Lab, Department of Zoology, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad 45320, Pakistan
3Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Harbin, 150040, P.R. China
 
*    Corresponding author: zhenshengliu@163.com, tenglw1975@163.com

ABSTRACT

Due to the expanding human population and subsequent developmental processes, it is crucial to evaluate habitats to design robust conservation strategies. We used maximum entropy modeling (MaxEnt) to identify suitable habitats for red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Nowshera district, Pakistan. MaxEnt was applied to 62 red fox occurrence points and topographical and current bioclimatic variables. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) values obtained in the present study, i.e., the area under the curve (AUC: 0.828), showed that the results were good and valuable. Of the total area studied (1747 km2), 272 km2 (20.15%) and 366 km2 (25.25 %) were highly and moderately suitable areas, respectively. The highly suitable areas comprised the protected areas (PAs) and their buffer zones; however, the moderately suitable areas mainly occurred in the peri-urban zones and were avoided by red fox. Results revealed that global land cover (glc2009) and poultry (ch_2010da) were the most influential factors defining red fox suitable habitats. Based on the results obtained in the current study, we strongly recommend focusing preservation of highly and moderately suitable areas for red fox in the study area and ensuring the conservation of these near-threatened ecologically important meso-carnivores by reducing human impacts on wild habitats.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

February

Pakistan J. Zool., Vol. 56, Iss. 1, pp. 01-501

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