We analyzed the movement behavior of a male Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), a critically endangered species, to understand its habitat preferences and relationship to its ambient environment. Using a hidden Markov chain approach, we identified distinct behavioral phases within the cheetah's movement track. We explored the conditions under which the cheetah switched between these behavioral phases. We computed summary statistics of the displacement and duration for the portion of time that the animal had constant behavior and found a linear pattern between its displacement and duration per behavioral phases. We then employed resource-selection and step-selection approaches to understand the cheetah's habitat preferences in general. The cheetah preferred intermediate elevations, low to intermediate slopes, intermediate distances from villages and shorter distances to the water resources. The cheetah moved over a range of 1137 km2, mainly staying in the more montane northern part of the range. With further validation, the environmental variables and their relationship with the cheetah's behavior could be employed to aid in the conservation of this rare cat.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the Department of Environment of the Islamic Republic of Iran (DoE) , the Global Environment Facilities (GEF) and the United Nations Development Pro-gramme (UNDP) for developing and supporting the project ”Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah, its natural habitat, and associated biota in the Islamic Republic of Iran” (CACP). CACP, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Panthera col-lected the cheetah and leopard telemetry data used in the present study and kindly allowed its use here. CACP , WCS and Panthera provided all funding and technical expertise for the collection of these data. We thank Houman Jowkar and Javad Najafi from CACP, for their cooperation and insightful comments on the Asiatic cheetah ecology. FC was funded by Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology . EG and WF were supported by NSF grant, ABI 1458748 .
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- Asiatic cheetah
- Computational movement analysis
- Geographical information system (GIS)
- Habitat selection
- Hidden Markov model
- Remote sensing
- Spatial ecology
- State-space model