Prioritizing Urban Habitats for Connectivity Conservation: Integrating Centrality and Ecological Metrics
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- Poodat, F., Arrowsmith, C., Fraser, D. et al. Environmental Management (2015) 56: 664. doi:10.1007/s00267-015-0520-2
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Connectivity among fragmented areas of habitat has long been acknowledged as important for the viability of biological conservation, especially within highly modified landscapes. Identifying important habitat patches in ecological connectivity is a priority for many conservation strategies, and the application of ‘graph theory’ has been shown to provide useful information on connectivity. Despite the large number of metrics for connectivity derived from graph theory, only a small number have been compared in terms of the importance they assign to nodes in a network. This paper presents a study that aims to define a new set of metrics and compares these with traditional graph-based metrics, used in the prioritization of habitat patches for ecological connectivity. The metrics measured consist of “topological” metrics, “ecological metrics,” and “integrated metrics,” Integrated metrics are a combination of topological and ecological metrics. Eight metrics were applied to the habitat network for the fat-tailed dunnart within Greater Melbourne, Australia. A non-directional network was developed in which nodes were linked to adjacent nodes. These links were then weighted by the effective distance between patches. By applying each of the eight metrics for the study network, nodes were ranked according to their contribution to the overall network connectivity. The structured comparison revealed the similarity and differences in the way the habitat for the fat-tailed dunnart was ranked based on different classes of metrics. Due to the differences in the way the metrics operate, a suitable metric should be chosen that best meets the objectives established by the decision maker.