Habitat selection of honey badgers: are they at the risk of an ecological trap?
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Department of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran
Online publication date: 2020-11-18
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Mansoureh Malekian   

Department of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2020;31(2):131-136
Human-induced environmental changes have dramatically changed habitats worldwide, decreasing the quantity and quality of habitats for wildlife and putting wild populations at risk.. In the current study habitat suitability of the honey badger (Mellivora capensis) across its distribution range in Southern Iran was investigated. We combined presence-only field data with environmental and anthropogenic variables, generating an ensemble model of habitat suitability based on four species distribution models. The contribution scores of anthropogenic variables (human footprint index and village density) in the model were noticeable, indicated that honey badgers do not avoid human-modified areas. The ensemble model further revealed large areas of low quality of natural habitats across the study area. Land use changes may have led honey badgers to settle in poor-quality habitats, where their fitness may be lower than in other available habitats. Therefore, there is a possible risk of an ecological trap due to the lack of protected high-quality habitats. Further research on honey badger fitness, in human-modified areas, is required to evaluate the hypothesis of ecological trap.
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