Habitat suitability and connectivity for the brown bear (Ursus arctos) along the Iran-Iraq border

  • Kamran AlmasiehEmail author
  • Haydar Rouhi
  • Shahram Kaboodvandpour
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Road Ecology


Habitat loss leads to habitat fragmentation. Habitat connectivity, however, could mitigate effects of habitat fragmentation on wildlife populations. This study was carried out to assess habitat suitability and connectivity of a brown bear population located along the Iran-Iraq border in the Zagros Mountains, at the southernmost extreme of the species range. A total of 34 presences of brown bear and seven environmental variables were used for habitat modeling using MaxEnt, and connectivity among habitat patches was assessed by electrical-circuit methods using Circuitscape. Distance from villages, elevation, slope, and distance from roads were respectively the most important variables in habitat modeling of the brown bear in the study area. In total, 33 habitat patches were identified for the brown bear, which covered about 12% of the study area. Results of connectivity revealed high connectivity among habitat patches in the Iran section, whereas in the Iraq section, only low connectivity was observed in areas close to the Iran-Iraq border. Systematic monitoring is recommended to assess potential habitat patches and habitat connectivity of the brown bear in future research as a first step towards cooperative management efforts between wildlife managers of Iran and Iraq. Moreover, establishing a transboundary protected area is highly recommended along the Iran-Iraq border to provide safety and connectivity for the brown bear in this region and reduce the effect of the country border as a separating factor.


Brown bear Connectivity Habitat patches Transboundary protected area Zagros Mountains 



We thank the Department of Environments in Iran and kindly locals who provided information about the brown bear. We would like to show our gratitude to anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the earlier version of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Department of Environment of Iran.

Supplementary material

10344_2019_1295_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 33 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kamran Almasieh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Haydar Rouhi
    • 2
  • Shahram Kaboodvandpour
    • 3
  1. 1.Environmental Sciences, Department of Nature EngineeringAgricultural Sciences and Natural Resources University of KhuzestanMollasaniIran
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesGorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural ResourcesGorganIran
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural ResourcesUniversity of KurdistanSanandajIran

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