American Journal of Environmental Sciences

HABITAT SUITABILITY MODELING FOR EXPLORATION OF THE SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION OF KASHMIR MUSK DEER IN DACHIGAM NATIONAL PARK, KASHMIR

Mudasir Ali

DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2014.446.457

American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 10, Issue 5

Pages 446-457

Abstract

Musk deer are highly important as a medicinal species that are severely exploited throughout their range of occurrence due to the medicinal value of the musk produced only by the male individuals. Methods used for studying the populations and distributions of other ungulates do not work well with musk deer and the presence of a unified methodology for studying musk deer appear to be lacking worldwide. Therefore, the development of a simple predictive model for studying the distribution of the musk deer habitats stands as an important task to be accomplished. Two kinds of research questions were pursued during the present study-examining through field research what kind of habitat musk deer used and mapping the habitat in the park using a GIS and remote sensing environment. The parameters which were found to have a profound influence in predicting the species’s spatial distribution have been used in the modeling of the current habitat suitability for the Kashmir musk deer (Moschus cupreus). The study was conducted at the upper reaches (elevations 2200 m and above) of the Dachigam National Park, Kashmir (34°05΄18.40΄΄N-34°06΄04.69΄΄N and 75°03΄32.05΄΄E-75°04΄27.26΄΄E) during January 2005-January 2008 to evaluate the characteristics of the musk deer habitats. The environmental attributes which were found to have a profound influence in predicting the species’s spatial distribution included the slope exposures in the range of 293°Northwest -68° Northeast, slope gradients of 25-40° and elevations of 2100 m and above, with the preference ratings of aspect > slope > elevation and, therefore, were considered for the development of the habitat suitability model for prediction of the spatial distribution of the Kashmir musk deer. The current suitable musk deer habitat in Dachigam National Park is estimated in the extent of about 40 sq. km. (~28% area of the national park). The model results were found to have a good performance in making fair predictions (about 50% area of the National Park has been validated for predictions). The spatial distribution of musk deer reflected the musk deer habitats mostly spread through the Picea smithiana and blue pine forest and some habitats close to the alpine scrub nearby to the rocky cliffs. The potential of the model has been utilized in finding the density of musk deer. Possible 60 musk deer survive in Dachigam National Park with a density of 0.42 individuals per sq. km. However, the weighted mean density in the musk deer habitats was about 1.55 individuals per sq. km.

Copyright

© 2014 Mudasir Ali. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.