Spatial assessment of landscape ecological connectivity in different urban gradient
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Urbanization has resulted in remnant natural patches within cities that often have no connectivity among themselves and to natural reserves outside the urban area. Protecting ecological connectivity in fragmented urban areas is becoming crucial in maintaining urban biodiversity and securing critical habitat levels and configurations under continual development pressures. Nevertheless, few studies have been undertaken for urban landscapes. This study aims to assess ecological connectivity for a group of species that represent the urban desert landscape in the Phoenix metropolitan area and to compare the connectivity values along the different urban gradient. A GIS-based landscape connectivity model which relies upon ecological connectivity index (ECI) was developed and applied to this region. A GIS-based concentric buffering technique was employed to delineate conceptual boundaries for urban, suburban, and rural zones. The research findings demonstrated that urban habitats and potential habitat patches would be significantly influenced by future urban development. Particularly, the largest loss of higher connectivity would likely to be anticipated in the “in-between areas” where urban, suburban, and rural zones overlap one another. The connectivity maps would be useful to provide spatial identification regarding connectivity patterns and vulnerability for urban and suburban activities in this area. This study provides planners and landscape architects with a spatial guidance to minimize ecological fragmentation, which ultimately leads to urban landscape sustainability. This study suggests that conventional planning practices which disregard the ecological processes in urban landscapes need to integrate landscape ecology into planning and design strategies.
KeywordsLandscape ecological connectivity Metropolitan landscape Urban gradient Phoenix
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