Landscape Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 2121–2132 | Cite as

Focal species and landscape “naturalness” corridor models offer complementary approaches for connectivity conservation planning

  • Meade KrosbyEmail author
  • Ian Breckheimer
  • D. John Pierce
  • Peter H. Singleton
  • Sonia A. Hall
  • Karl C. Halupka
  • William L. Gaines
  • Robert A. Long
  • Brad H. McRae
  • Brian L. Cosentino
  • Joanne P. Schuett-Hames
Research Article



The dual threats of habitat fragmentation and climate change have led to a proliferation of approaches for connectivity conservation planning. Corridor analyses have traditionally taken a focal species approach, but the landscape “naturalness” approach of modeling connectivity among areas of low human modification has gained popularity as a less analytically intensive alternative.


We compared focal species and naturalness-based corridor networks to ask whether they identify similar areas, whether a naturalness-based approach is in fact more analytically efficient, and whether agreement between the two approaches varies with focal species vagility.


We compared focal-species and naturalness-based connectivity models at two nested spatial extents: greater Washington State, USA, and, within it, the Columbia Plateau ecoregion. We assessed complementarity between the two approaches by examining the spatial overlap of predicted corridors, and regressing organism traits against the amount of modeled corridor overlap.


A single naturalness-based corridor network represented connectivity for a large (>10) number of focal species as effectively as a group of between 3 and 4 randomly selected focal species. The naturalness-based approach showed only moderate spatial agreement with composite corridor networks for large numbers of focal species, and better agreed with corridor networks of large-bodied, far-dispersing species in the larger scale analysis.


Naturalness-based corridor models may offer an efficient proxy for focal species models, but a multi-focal species approach may better represent the movement needs of diverse taxa. Consideration of trade-offs between the two approaches may enhance the effectiveness of their application to connectivity conservation planning.


Coarse-filter Connectivity Corridors Fine-filter Focal-species Landscape integrity 



We would like to acknowledge the full membership of the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, especially the modelers and species leads who completed the connectivity models used in our analysis. MK received support for this analysis from the Wilburforce Foundation. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Supplementary material

10980_2015_235_MOESM1_ESM.docx (8.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 8313 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meade Krosby
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ian Breckheimer
    • 2
  • D. John Pierce
    • 3
  • Peter H. Singleton
    • 4
  • Sonia A. Hall
    • 5
  • Karl C. Halupka
    • 6
  • William L. Gaines
    • 7
  • Robert A. Long
    • 8
  • Brad H. McRae
    • 9
  • Brian L. Cosentino
    • 3
  • Joanne P. Schuett-Hames
    • 3
    • 10
  1. 1.Climate Impacts Group, College of the EnvironmentUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Washington Department of Fish and WildlifeOlympiaUSA
  4. 4.USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research StationWenatcheeUSA
  5. 5.SAH Ecologia LLCWenatcheeUSA
  6. 6.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Central Washington Field OfficeWenatcheeUSA
  7. 7.Washington Conservation Science InstituteLeavenworthUSA
  8. 8.Woodland Park ZooSeattleUSA
  9. 9.The Nature ConservancyFort CollinsUSA
  10. 10.OlympiaUSA

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