Determination of the Potential Habitat of Range Plant Species Using Maximum Entropy Method

Document Type: Research and Full Length Article

Authors

Department of Rangeland and Watershed Management, Faculty of Water and Soil, University of Zabol, Iran

Abstract

This study aimed to identify the most important physical variables affecting the distribution of four range plants species (Tamarix aphylla, Calligonum comosum, Prosopis spicigera and Salsola rigida) habitats and to prepare potential habitat map of the species using Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) method in rangelands of Jiroft city, Kerman province, located in SE Iran. To this end, sampling of vegetation including species type and percent cover was conducted with randomized-systematic method in 2015. Sample size was determined as 60 plots with a quadrat size of 25-100 m2. For soil sampling, eight profiles were dug in each habitat and samples were taken at two depths, i.e., 0–30 and 30–60 cm. Results indicated that the classification accuracy of the model was acceptable and soil variables including EC, percentage of lime, organic matter, moisture content and texture had the greatest effect on the distribution of the studied plant species habitats. Correlations between the actual and predicted maps for Tamarix aphylla and Calligonum comosum habitats were at a very good level, Kappa = 0.81 and 0.79, respectively, for Prosopis spicigera habitat was at a good level, Kappa = 0.75, and finally for Salsola rigida was at a moderate level, Kappa = 0.53. These results indicate that the MaxEnt method can provide valuable information about the physical conditions of plant habitats in arid rangeland. Knowledge on physical characteristics of plant habitats can be useful in determination of potential habitats and rangeland improvement projects.

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