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Components of landscape pattern and urban biodiversity in an era of climate change: a global survey of expert knowledge

Abstract

There is sufficient evidence to show that both humans and fauna are profoundly affected by landscape pattern composition and configuration in relation to adaptation to climate change impacts in urban landscapes. Despite this, global-scale research that ranks which components of landscape pattern play the most pivotal roles in this process is absent. Also lacking is in-depth examination of the potential areas of conflict between biodiversity conservation targets and those that pertain to human dimensions of climate change adaptation goals in relation to landscape patterns. The research aim was to determine how to identify, rank, and weight the most important components of landscape pattern affecting urban biodiversity in the changing climate and how to address areas of conflict between biodiversity conservation and human dimensions of climate change adaptation goals in terms of the spatial patterning of land cover classes distributed across urban landscapes. To do this, a global survey of 87 participants from 69 academic centres involved in at least 325 research projects between 2000 and 2017 was conducted. Of the eight components of landscape pattern identified and ranked by participants worldwide, the three most important components are respectively patch size, connectivity and proximity, and land cover heterogeneity. This research reveals that opinions of participants with experience in conducting research in the Southern Hemisphere in general and Oceania in particular influence this ranking. While a range of recommendations from specialists have been gathered and weighted, there is still much more research required to address areas of conflict between what fauna and humans need in the face of climate change.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are highly appreciative of Dr Lisa Woods from Victoria University of Wellington and Dr Mark Johnson from Research New Zealand for constructive feedback on the statistical data analysis undertaken in this research. Detailed comments received from three anonymous reviewers are highly acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Amin Rastandeh.

Appendices

Appendix 1

Part of the questionnaire used to carry out the research

  1. A)

    General questions

Please answer the questions based on your experience in the specific geographic area where you have worked/are working. Please note that answering all questions is optional.

  1. (1)

    Academic affiliation

  2. (2)

    Have you conducted any research on the connection between landscape pattern composition and configuration and urban wildlife species in recent years?

    • YES

    • NO (go to PART D)

  3. (3)

    Please specify the countries in which you have conducted your previous research since 2000.

  4. (4)

    Please specify the number of research projects you have undertaken on this topic since 2000.

  5. (5)

    Please specify the scale of study you have undertaken. You may choose more than one option.

  1. B)

    Components of landscape pattern affecting wildlife species

You can refer to Glossary to see the definitions of the terms used in this part. Please note that answering all questions is optional.

  1. (1)

    Please score each of the eight components of landscape pattern listed below, using a score from 1 the least important, to 5 the most important, in terms of its unique influence on urban wildlife species in an era of climate change. For example, if you believe that patch size plays a pivotal role in affecting urban biodiversity in an era of climate change, give it a score of 5 and conversely, if you believe that item has the least important role, give it a score of 1.

Glossary

  • Edge contrast: dissimilarity between one patch with another in their borders.

  • Edge density: the presence and quantity of the patch edge across the landscape

  • Edge effect: climatic and/or human caused effects penetrating into patch along its edge.

  • Indigenousness: the state of being indigenous/native in terms of land cover.

  • Land cover heterogeneity: diversity of different land cover type classes in patch or landscape levels.

  • Landform diversity: diversity of elevations, slopes, and aspects.

Components of landscape pattern affecting wildlife species in urbanised landscapes.

Components Least important Less important Intermediate More important Most important
1 2 3 4 5
Indigenousness      
Land cover heterogeneity      
Land surface perviousness      
Patch size      
Connectivity and proximity      
Edge density and contrast      
Landform diversity      
Shape complexity      
  1. (2)

    Do you want to add another item to the list of components of landscape pattern presented in B1?

    • YES

    • NO (go to PART C).

  2. (3)

    Please specify additional component(s) of landscape pattern affecting wildlife species and then give reason(s) to justify why you think that the introduced component(s) is/are important to be addressed.

  3. (4)

    Dedicate an appropriate score to what you have listed in B3, from 1 the least important, to 5 the most important, in terms of its unique influence on wildlife species in an era of climate change.

  1. C)

    Areas of conflict

Please answer the following questions based on your experience and observations made in the course of your previous research. Please take climate change into particular consideration when addressing the following four questions. There is no word limit in this part. Please note that answering all questions is optional.

  1. (1)

    Indigenous or exotic?

While indigenous plant species are regarded as an essential for ecological integrity over time, some exotic plants are commonplace species for carbon sequestration and storage, and are often economically and socially acceptable. According to what you have found in the course of research and practice, is it possible to find a middle ground to alleviate the current conflict between indigenous and exotic species?

  1. (2)

    Isolation or connection?

While isolated patches of vegetation may be suggested to reduce the chance of pest and weed dispersal, connected patches of vegetation may facilitate the movement of species from one patch to another for foraging, breeding, roosting, etc.

In an era of climate change, connected patches of vegetation can reduce the urban heat island effect through increasing the cooling effects of urban green spaces. Conversely, isolated patches of vegetation may be regarded as safe havens for wildlife species to be safeguarded against the spread of extreme events such as flood, heat waves, etc. According to what you have found in the course of research and practice, is it possible to find a middle ground to alleviate the current conflict between spatial isolation and connection?

  1. (3)

    High and low edge density and contrast

While low edge density can be regarded as a spatial strategy for reducing climate-related edge effects in support of wildlife species in the face of extreme events, high edge density can reduce the urban heat island effect through increasing the cooling effects of urban green spaces. At the same time, while high edge contrast may be a physical barrier to climate change-induced impacts such as disease spread, pest and weed dispersal, wildfire, etc., it may provide restrictions for wildlife species to move from one patch to another for foraging, breeding, roosting, etc. According to what you have found in the course of research and practice, is it possible to find a middle ground to alleviate the current conflict between high and low edge density and contrast?

  1. (4)

    Spatially compacted or dispersed

While compact patches of vegetation may be considered as a means for reducing negative impacts on wildlife species through providing a larger core area protected from climatic edge effects, research shows that irregular extensive patches of vegetation can be beneficial for reducing the impacts of urban heat island in urban environments. According to what you have found in the course of research and practice, is it possible to find a middle ground to alleviate the current conflict between spatially compacted and dispersed configurations?

  1. D)

    Snowball approach

Please forward the link of this questionnaire to scientists and/or researchers who may be able to contribute to this research.

Appendix 2

Pairwise comparisons made based upon estimated marginal means for Groups A, B, and C. Indigenousness (1), Land cover heterogeneity (2), Land surface perviousness (3), Patch size (4), Connectivity and proximity (5), Edge density and contrast (6), Landform diversity (7), and Shape complexity (8)

Pairwise comparisons Group A Group B Group C
Mean dif. Std. error Sig. Mean dif. Std. error Sig. Mean dif. Std. error Sig.
1 2 −.790* 0.163 0.000 −0.615 0.401 1.000 −0.455 0.455 1.000
  3 −0.387 0.163 0.584 0.000 0.253 1.000 0.091 0.285 1.000
  4 −.952* 0.133 0.000 −0.769 0.231 0.167 −0.727 0.273 0.662
  5 −1.016* 0.170 0.000 −0.308 0.263 1.000 −0.091 0.251 1.000
  6 0.194 0.184 1.000 0.923 0.288 0.211 1.000 0.330 0.356
  7 0.081 0.168 1.000 0.308 0.398 1.000 0.455 0.413 1.000
  8 0.516 0.184 0.186 1.077 0.348 0.261 1.273 0.384 0.218
2 1 .790* 0.163 0.000 0.615 0.401 1.000 0.455 0.455 1.000
  3 0.403 0.148 0.236 0.615 0.350 1.000 0.545 0.413 1.000
  4 −0.161 0.142 1.000 −0.154 0.337 1.000 −0.273 0.384 1.000
  5 −0.226 0.139 1.000 0.308 0.308 1.000 0.364 0.364 1.000
  6 .984* 0.155 0.000 1.538* 0.183 0.000 1.455* 0.207 0.001
  7 .871* 0.123 0.000 0.923 0.329 0.447 0.909 0.368 0.928
  8 1.306* 0.137 0.000 1.692* 0.286 0.002 1.727* 0.333 0.011
3 1 0.387 0.163 0.584 0.000 0.253 1.000 −0.091 0.285 1.000
  2 −0.403 0.148 0.236 −0.615 0.350 1.000 −0.545 0.413 1.000
  4 −.565* 0.150 0.011 −0.769 0.257 0.314 −0.818 0.296 0.559
  5 −.629* 0.161 0.007 −0.308 0.175 1.000 −0.182 0.182 1.000
  6 .581* 0.163 0.021 0.923 0.239 0.064 0.909 0.285 0.268
  7 0.468 0.159 0.128 0.308 0.444 1.000 0.364 0.509 1.000
  8 .903* 0.154 0.000 1.077 0.309 0.127 1.182 0.352 0.204
4 1 .952* 0.133 0.000 0.769 0.231 0.167 0.727 0.273 0.662
  2 0.161 0.142 1.000 0.154 0.337 1.000 0.273 0.384 1.000
  3 .565* 0.150 0.011 0.769 0.257 0.314 0.818 0.296 0.559
  5 −0.065 0.126 1.000 0.462 0.215 1.000 0.636 0.203 0.299
  6 1.145* 0.147 0.000 1.692* 0.208 0.000 1.727* 0.237 0.001
  7 1.032* 0.158 0.000 1.077 0.383 0.441 1.182 0.400 0.406
  8 1.468* 0.169 0.000 1.846* 0.296 0.001 2.000* 0.330 0.003
5 1 1.016* 0.170 0.000 0.308 0.263 1.000 0.091 0.251 1.000
  2 0.226 0.139 1.000 −0.308 0.308 1.000 −0.364 0.364 1.000
  3 .629* 0.161 0.007 0.308 0.175 1.000 0.182 0.182 1.000
  4 0.065 0.126 1.000 −0.462 0.215 1.000 −0.636 0.203 0.299
  6 1.210* 0.128 0.000 1.231* 0.201 0.001 1.091* 0.211 0.012
  7 1.097* 0.147 0.000 0.615 0.350 1.000 0.545 0.390 1.000
  8 1.532* 0.134 0.000 1.385* 0.241 0.003 1.364* 0.279 0.018
6 1 −0.194 0.184 1.000 −0.923 0.288 0.211 −1.000 0.330 0.356
  2 −.984* 0.155 0.000 −1.538* 0.183 0.000 −1.455* 0.207 0.001
  3 −.581* 0.163 0.021 −0.923 0.239 0.064 −0.909 0.285 0.268
  4 −1.145* 0.147 0.000 −1.692* 0.208 0.000 −1.727* 0.237 0.001
  5 −1.210* 0.128 0.000 −1.231* 0.201 0.001 −1.091* 0.211 0.012
  7 −0.113 0.142 1.000 −0.615 0.311 1.000 −0.545 0.340 1.000
  8 0.323 0.128 0.393 0.154 0.191 1.000 0.273 0.195 1.000
7 1 −0.081 0.168 1.000 −0.308 0.398 1.000 −0.455 0.413 1.000
  2 −.871* 0.123 0.000 −0.923 0.329 0.447 −0.909 0.368 0.928
  3 −0.468 0.159 0.128 −0.308 0.444 1.000 −0.364 0.509 1.000
  4 −1.032* 0.158 0.000 −1.077 0.383 0.441 −1.182 0.400 0.406
  5 −1.097* 0.147 0.000 −0.615 0.350 1.000 −0.545 0.390 1.000
  6 0.113 0.142 1.000 0.615 0.311 1.000 0.545 0.340 1.000
  8 .435* 0.131 0.043 0.769 0.343 1.000 0.818 0.352 1.000
8 1 −0.516 0.184 0.186 −1.077 0.348 0.261 −1.273 0.384 0.218
  2 −1.306* 0.137 0.000 −1.692* 0.286 0.002 −1.727* 0.333 0.011
  3 −.903* 0.154 0.000 −1.077 0.309 0.127 −1.182 0.352 0.204
  4 −1.468* 0.169 0.000 −1.846* 0.296 0.001 −2.000* 0.330 0.003
  5 −1.532* 0.134 0.000 −1.385* 0.241 0.003 −1.364* 0.279 0.018
  6 −0.323 0.128 0.393 −0.154 0.191 1.000 −0.273 0.195 1.000
  7 −.435* 0.131 0.043 −0.769 0.343 1.000 −0.818 0.352 1.000
  1. *The mean difference is significant at the 0.05 level

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Rastandeh, A., Pedersen Zari, M. & Brown, D.K. Components of landscape pattern and urban biodiversity in an era of climate change: a global survey of expert knowledge. Urban Ecosyst 21, 903–920 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-018-0777-3

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Keywords

  • Urban biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Landscape patterns
  • Spatial ecology of wildlife species
  • Expert survey