In recent years, brown bear Ursus arctos populations in Iran have experienced a clear trend of reduction and the species is now officially listed as threatened under provincial legislation. Anthropogenic habitat alteration and increasing human access to previously remote landscapes are potential source of stress for this species in Iran. Therefore, land cover changes in the Chelcheli protected area were mapped for 1991–2013 using time sequential Landsat TM and ETM at 30 meters resolution. Moreover, Maximum entropy (MaxEnt) modeling was used to investigate habitat selection of brown bear. The results showed that suitable patches overlapped with forest areas (Hyrcanian forest) and rivers. Our results also indicate that the brown bear habitat suitability is negatively influenced by human disturbance (e.g., roads, settlements). Increased human disturbance in brown bear habitat in recent decades may cause bears to avoid the disturbed areas. Therefore, the management plans should focus on reducing the human infrastructures around brown bear habitat. A suggestion is to place the core secure areas for brown bear inside the suitable habitat close to rivers where the human access is restricted. Promoting awareness of biodiversity conservation among tourism should also be one of the major focuses of management plans.
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Vol. 64 • No. 3