Coupling inter-patch movement models and landscape graph to assess functional connectivity
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Landscape connectivity is a key process for the functioning and persistence of spatially-structured populations in fragmented landscapes. Butterflies are particularly sensitive to landscape change and are excellent model organisms to study landscape connectivity. Here, we infer functional connectivity from the assessment of the selection of different landscape elements in a highly fragmented landscape in the Île-de-France region (France). Firstly we measured the butterfly preferences of the Large White butterfly (Pieris brassicae) in different landscape elements using individual release experiments. Secondly, we used an inter-patch movement model based on butterfly choices to build the selection map of the landscape elements to moving butterflies. From this map, functional connectivity network of P. brassicae was modelled using landscape graph-based approach. In our study area, we identified nine components/groups of connected habitat patches, eight of them located in urbanized areas, whereas the last one covered the more rural areas. Eventually, we provided elements to validate the predictions of our model with independent experiments of mass release-recapture of butterflies. Our study shows (1) the efficiency of our inter-patch movement model based on species preferences in predicting complex ecological processes such as dispersal and (2) how inter-patch movement model results coupled to landscape graph can assess landscape functional connectivity at large spatial scales.
KeywordsDispersal Fragmented landscape Inter-patch movement modelling Lepidoptera Pieris brassicae Urbanization
We particularly thank volunteers for their observation and participation to the study and Natureparif, Audrey Coulon for the caterpillars rearing, Leyli Borner and all the Evoltrait team based in Brunoy for their support and useful help in this study. We especially thank the two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved this manuscript. MB’s contribution was funded by a grant from the ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche, Open Call DIAME 2008-2011 DIspersal And MEtapopulations). This project was supported by the SCALE project. The graph analysis was conducted in the framework of the Graphab project of the USR 3124 MSHE Ledoux, funded by the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Sea.
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