, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 867-881
Date: 24 Feb 2007

Modeling scale-dependent landscape pattern, dispersal, and connectivity from the perspective of the organism

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Abstract

Understanding the impacts of habitat fragmentation on dispersal is an important issue in landscape and conservation ecology. Here I examine the effects of fine- to broad-scale patterns in landscape structure on dispersal success of organisms with differing life-history traits. An individual-based model was used to simulate dispersal of amphibian-like species whose movements were driven by land cover and moisture conditions. To systematically control spatial pattern, a landscape model was created by merging simulated land cover maps with synthetic topographic surfaces. Landscapes varied in topographic roughness and spatial contagion in agriculture and urban land cover. Simulations included three different species types that varied in their maximum potential dispersal distances by 1-, 2-, or 4-fold. Two sets of simulations addressed effects of varying aspects of landscape structure on dispersal success. In the first set of simulations, which incorporated variable distances between breeding patches, dispersal success was lowest for all species types when anthropogenic cover was patchily distributed. In the second set, with interpatch distances held constant as landscape composition varied, dispersal success decreased as anthropogenic cover became spatially contagious. Both sets revealed strong main effects of species characteristics, interpatch distances and landscape composition on dispersal success; furthermore, scale-dependent patterns in land cover and moisture gradients had a stronger effect on longer- than shorter-ranging species types. Taken together, these simulations suggest that heuristic conservation strategies could potentially be developed based on important but limited life history information.