, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 31-44

A Network Approach for Analyzing Spatially Structured Populations in Fragmented Landscape

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Abstract

We extend the recently proposed graph-theoretical landscape perspective by applying some network-centric methods mainly developed in the social sciences. The methods we propose are suitable to (1) identify individual habitat patches that are disproportionally high in importance in preserving the ability of organisms to traverse the fragmented landscape, and (2) find internally well-connected compartments of habitat patches that contribute to a spatial compartmentalization of species populations. We demonstrate the utility of these methods using an agricultural landscape with scattered dry-forest patches in southern Madagascar, inhabited by the ring-tailed lemur, Lemur catta. We suggest that these methods are particularly suitable in landscapes where species’ traversability is not fully inhibited by fragmentation, but merely limited. These methods are potentially highly relevant in studying spatial aspects of resilience and in the design of natural reserves.