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Factors affecting the distribution of dorcas gazelle


  • Editor: Andrew Charles Kitchener

Slaheddine Selmi, Département des SVT, Faculté des Sciences de Gabès, Zrig, 6072, Gabès, Tunisia. Tel: 216 75 392 600; Fax: 216 75 392 421


The dorcas gazelle Gazella dorcas was very common and widespread in Tunisia. Nowadays, only some small isolated populations still survive in the desert areas of the southern part of the country. Factors affecting the distribution of this species in Tunisia have never been investigated despite the importance of such investigations for elaborating long-term conservation plans for the remaining wild populations. Using data on gazelle occurrence and on a set of habitat and human variables collected in south-eastern Tunisia, we aimed to identify the factors affecting gazelle distribution in this area. In particular, we investigated the relevance of habitat versus human factors for gazelle occurrence probability. As predicted, we found that human variables were the most relevant factors shaping the distribution patterns of gazelles in the studied area. Gazelles tended to avoid areas where agricultural development has occurred but did not seem to be disturbed by livestock. Overall, our results suggest that the occurrence probability of dorcas gazelle in southern Tunisia was mainly dependent on human presence and land use, rather than habitat characteristics. The recent intensification of agriculture in the more remote areas of southern Tunisia may thus constitute a serious threat to the conservation of this endangered species.