, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 5-15
Date: 14 Nov 2008

Assessing functional connectivity using empirical data

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The potential for connectivity to impact populations in heterogeneous landscapes, and the obvious implications for conservation biology, has led to increasing interest in connectivity and a proliferation of connectivity measures. Despite the pivotal role of this measure in ecology, however, there is no generally accepted and employed formal definition of connectivity. In addition, despite the strong desire from conservationists, who are increasingly asked to design and implement corridor plans, empirically determining measures of movement and dispersal, and assessing connectivity from field data remain challenging tasks in spatial ecology. Here I summarize the current use of connectivity concepts in terms of both metapopulation and landscape ecology, and present recently developed promising techniques in spatial ecology, such as graph theory, pattern-oriented modeling, and state–space modeling, which will help to improve assessment of species-centered or functional connectivity based on empirical data.

This manuscript was submitted for the special feature based on the symposium in Jozankei, Hokkaido, held on 20 October 2007.