Characterising landscape connectivity for conservation planning using a dispersal guild approach
- 974 Downloads
Land use changes have modified the extent and structure of native vegetation, resulting in fragmentation of native species habitat. Connectivity is increasingly seen as a requirement for effective conservation in these landscapes, but the question remains: ‘connectivity for which species?’.
The aim of this study was to develop and then apply a rapid, expert-based, dispersal guild approach where species are grouped on similar fine-scale dispersal behaviour (such as between scattered trees) and habitat characteristics.
Dispersal guilds were identified using clustering techniques to compare dispersal and habitat parameters elicited from experts. We modelled least-cost paths and corridors between patches and individual movement probabilities within these corridors for each of the dispersal guilds using Circuitscape. We demonstrate our approach with a case study in the Tasmanian Northern Midlands, Australia.
The dispersal guild approach grouped the 12 species into five dispersal guilds. The connectivity modelling of those five guilds found that broadly dispersing species in this landscape, such as medium-sized carnivorous mammals, were unaffected by fragmentation while from the perspective of the three dispersal guilds made up of smaller mammals, the landscape appeared highly fragmented.
Our approach yields biologically defensible outputs that are broadly applicable, particularly for conservation planning where data and resources are limited. It is a useful first step in multi-species conservation planning which aims to identify those species most in need of conservation efforts.
KeywordsConservation biology Conservation planning Connectivity Dispersal Guilds Least-cost paths Landscape planning Corridor Mammals Cluster analysis Multi-species model
This project was funded by the Australian Government Sustainable Regional Development Program in conjunction with the National Environmental Research Program’s Landscapes and Policy research Hub. We would like to thank the following people who contributed to this research Amy Koch, Bronwyn Fancourt, Chris Johnson, Christine Fury, Erik Doerr, Felicity Faulkner, Gareth Davies, Kirsty Dixon, Kirstin Proft, Louise Gilfedder, Mat Appleby, Menna Jones, Neil Davidson, Nick Fitzgerald, Rebecca Harris, Sarah Maclagan, Shannon Troy and Veronica Doerr. We would also like to thank the two peer reviewers (Robby Marrotte and an anonymous reviewer) for their insightful and constructive comments which greatly improved the clarity of the paper.
- Brown M (2011) Land use Tasmania: a technical report outlining the creation of the Draft Tasmanian summer 2009/2010. Unpublished report DPIPWE, TasmaniaGoogle Scholar
- CMP (2013) Open standards for the practice of conservation, version 3. Conservation Measures PartnershipGoogle Scholar
- Department of Environment (2014) Australia’s 15 national biodiversity hotspots. Commonw Gov. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/conservation/hotspots/national-biodiversity-hotspots#hotspot4
- DPIPWE (2013) TASVEG 3.0. Tasmanian vegetation monitoring and mapping program. Resource Management and Conservation Division, Hobart, TasmaniaGoogle Scholar
- Fischer J, Lindenmayer DB (2006) Habitat fragmentation and landscape change: an ecological and conservation synthesis. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
- Gadsby S, Lockwood M, Moore S, Curtis A (2013) Tasmanian midlands socio-economic profile. Hobart, Tasmania, Landscape and Policy Hub, University of TasmaniaGoogle Scholar
- Lechner AM, Lefroy EC (2014) General approach to planning connectivity from LOcal Scales to Regional (GAP CLoSR): combining multi-criteria analysis and connectivity science to enhance conservation outcomes at regional scale. Centre for Environment, University of Tasmania. www.nerplandscapes.edu.au/publication/GAP_CLoSR
- McRae BH, Kavanagh DM (2011) Linkage mapper connectivity analysis software. The Nature Conservancy, SeattleGoogle Scholar
- Mooney C, Defenderfer D, Anderson M (2010) Reasons why farmers diversify northern midlands, Tasmania. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, CanberraGoogle Scholar
- Noon BR, McKelvey KS, Dickson BG (2009) Multispecies conservation planning on U.S. Federal Lands. Models for Planning Wildlife Conservation in Large Landscapes. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-373631-4.00003-4
- Rudnick DA, Ryan SJ, Beier P, Cushman SA, Dieffenbach F, Epps C, Gerber LR, Hartter J, Jenness JS, Kintsch J, Merenlender AM (2012) The role of landscape connectivity in planning and implementing conservation and restoration priorities. Issue Ecol 16:1–23Google Scholar
- Sprod D (2013) A structural vegetation cover dataset for the Midlands of Tasmania. Unpublished report, Tasmanian Land Conservancy, HobartGoogle Scholar
- The Nature Conservancy (2007) Conservation action planning: developing strategies taking action, and measuring success at any scale. Overview of Basic Practices Version, February 2007Google Scholar