Top predators such as leopard Panthera spp. are often associated with high biodiversity, so the protection of their habitats is one of the most effective ways to conserve biodiversity globally. In this paper, we use ecological niche factor analysis (ENFA), a presence-only environmental habitat-envelope based method to create habitat suitability maps for Persian leopard in Golestan National Park (GNP), Iran. The Persian leopard Panthera pardus saxicolor is an endangered subspecies on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. During a one-year field study in 2009, we recorded 120 leopard locations and related these to 14 environmental variables. Our analysis shows that the Persian leopard in this area lives within a very narrow range of conditions and therefore may require rather specific habitat protection and management in this area.
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Vol. 19 • No. 2