Population Ecology

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 5–15 | Cite as

Assessing functional connectivity using empirical data

Special Feature: Review Spatial Connectivity and Scaling


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.


Complex life cycle Foraging theory Matrix structure Patch connectivity Structural connectivity 



I thank Drs J. Ishii, Y. Yamaura, M. Takada, and M. Akasaka, and two anonymous referees, for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This study was supported by the National Key Technology Project “Data Integration and Analysis System”, funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecosystem Studies, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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