Landscape Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 17–39 | Cite as

Using patch isolation metrics to predict animal movement in binary landscapes

  • Darren J. Bender
  • Lutz Tischendorf
  • Lenore Fahrig


Habitat isolation can affect the distribution and abundance of wildlife, but it is an ambiguous attribute to measure. Presumably, isolation is a characteristic of a habitat patch that reflects how spatially inaccessible it is to dispersing organisms. We identified four isolation metrics (nearest-neighbor distance, Voronoi polygons, proximity index, and habitat buffers) that were representative of the different families of metrics that are commonly used in the literature to measure patch isolation. Using simulated data, we evaluated the ability of each isolation metric to predict animal dispersal. We examined the simulated movement of organisms in two types of landscapes: an artificially-generated point-pattern landscapes where patch size and shape were consistent and only the arrangement of patches varied, and realistic landscapes derived from a geographic information system (GIS) of forest-vegetation maps where patch size, shape, and isolation were variable. We tested the performance of the four isolation metrics by examining the strength of the correlation between observed immigration rate in the simulations and each patch isolation metric. We also evaluated whether each isolation metric would perform consistently under varying conditions of patch size/shape, total amount of habitat in the landscape, and proximity of the patch to the landscape edge. The results indicate that a commonly-used distance-based metric, nearest-neighbor distance, did not adequately predict immigration rate when patch size and shape were variable. Area-informed isolation metrics, such as the amount of available habitat within a given radius of a patch, were most successful at predicting immigration. Overall, the use of area-informed metrics is advocated despite the limitation that these metrics require parameterization to reflect the movement capacity of the organism studied.

Dispersal Fragstats Island biogeography Metapopulation Nearest neighbor Patch isolation Proximity 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andrén H. 1994. Effects of habitat fragmentation on birds and mammals in landscapes with different proportions of suitable habitat: A review. Oikos 71: 355–366.Google Scholar
  2. Bender D.J. 2000. Wildlife Movement in Fragmented Habitats: The Influence of Landscape Complexity. PhD Dissertation, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  3. Bolger B.M., Alberts A.C., Sauvajot R.M., Potenza P., McCalvin C., Tran D. et al. 1997. Response of rodents to habitat fragmentation in coastal southern California. Ecological Applications 7: 552–563.Google Scholar
  4. Bowman J., Jaeger J.A. and Fahrig L. Dispersal distance of mammals is proportional to home range size. Ecology (in press).Google Scholar
  5. Brennan J.M., Bender D.J., Contreras T.A. and Fahrig L. 2002. Experimental design for management at a landscape scale. In: Lui J. and Taylor W.A. (eds), Integrating Landscape Ecology into Natural Resource Management. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK (in press).Google Scholar
  6. Cappuccino N. and Martin M. 1997. The birch tube-maker Acrobasis betulella in a fragmented habitat: the importance of patch isolation and edges. Oecologia 110: 69–76.Google Scholar
  7. de Vries H.H., den Boer P.J. and van Dijk T.S. 1996. Ground beetle species in heathland fragments in relation to survival, dispersal, and habitat preference. Oecologia 107: 332–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Delin A.E. and Andrén H. 1999. Effects of habitat fragmentation on Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in a forest landscape. Landscape Ecology 14: 67–71.Google Scholar
  9. Diamond J.M. 1975. The island dilemma: Lessons from modern biogeographic studies for the design natural reserves. Biological Conservation 7: 129–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Diggle P.J. 1983. Statistical Analysis of Spatial Point Patterns. Academic Press, London, UK.Google Scholar
  11. Doak D.E. and Mills L.S. 1994. A useful role for theory in conservation. Ecology 75: 615–626.Google Scholar
  12. Dunning J.B., Borgella R., Clements K. and Meffe G.K. 1995. Patch isolation, corridor effects, and colonization by a resident sparrow in a managed pine woodland. Conservation Biology 9: 542–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Elkie P.C., Rempel R.S. and Carr A.P. 1999. Patch Analyst User’s Manual: A Tool for Quantifying Landscape Structure. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Technical Manual TM-002 TM-002. Northwest Science & Technology, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  14. Fitzgibbon C.D. 1993. The distribution of grey squirrel dreys in farm woodland: the influence of wood area, isolation and management. Journal of Applied Ecology 30: 736–742.Google Scholar
  15. Fitzgibbon C.D. 1997. Small mammals in farm woodlands: the effects of habitat, isolation and surrounding land-use patterns. Journal of Applied Ecology 34: 530–539.Google Scholar
  16. Grashof-Bokdam C. 1997. Forest species in an agricultural landscape in the Netherlands: effects of habitat fragmentation. Journal of Vegetation Science 8: 21–28.Google Scholar
  17. Gustafson E.J. 1998. Quantifying spatial pattern: What is state of the art? Ecosystems 1: 143–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gustafson E.J. and Parker G.R. 1992. Relationships between land-cover proportion and indices of landscape spatial pattern. Landscape Ecology 7: 101–110.Google Scholar
  19. Gustafson E.J. and Parker G.R. 1994. Using an index of habitat patch proximity for landscape design. Landscape and Urban Planning 29: 117–130.Google Scholar
  20. Hanski I. 1998. Metapopulation dynamics. Nature 396: 41–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hanski I. and Gilpin M. 1991. Metapopulation dynamics: Brief history and conceptual domain. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 42: 3–16.Google Scholar
  22. Hanski I. and Ovaskainen O. 2000. The metapopulation capacity of a fragmented landscape. Nature 404: 755–758.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Hansson L. 1998. Local hot spots and their edge effects: small mammals in oak-hazel woodland. Oikos 81: 55–62.Google Scholar
  24. Hargis C., Bissonette J. and David J. 1998. The behavior of landscape metrics commonly used in the study of habitat fragmentation. Landscape Ecology 13.Google Scholar
  25. Harrison R.L. 1992. Toward a theory of inter-refuge corridor design. Conservation Biology 6: 293–295.Google Scholar
  26. Hill J.K., Thomas C.D. and Lewis O.T. 1996. Effects of habitat patch size and isolation on dispersal by Hesperia comma butterflies: implications for metapopulation structure. Journal of Animal Ecology 65: 725–735.Google Scholar
  27. Hjermann D.O. and Ims R.A. 1996. Landscape ecology of the wart-biter Decticus verrucivorus in a patchy landscape. Journal of Animal Ecology 65: 768–780.Google Scholar
  28. Hokit D.G., Stith B.M. and Branch L.C. 1999. Effects of landscape structure in Florida scrub: a population perspective. Ecological Applications 9: 124–134.Google Scholar
  29. Johannesen E., Andreassen H.P. and Ims R.A. 2000. The effect of patch isolation on reproductive synchrony in the root vole. Oikos 89: 37–40.Google Scholar
  30. Kareiva P. 1990. Population dynamics in spatially complex environments: theory and data. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 330: 175–190.Google Scholar
  31. Kinnunen H., Järveläinen K., Pakkala T. and Tiainen J. 1996. The effect of isolation on the occurence of farmland carabids in a fragmented landscape. Annual Zoological Fennici 33: 165–171.Google Scholar
  32. Kozakiewicz M. 1985. The role of habitat isolation in formation of structure and dynamics of the bank vole population. Acta Theriologica 30: 193–209.Google Scholar
  33. Krebs C.J. 1989. Ecological Methodology. Harper, New York, New York, USA.Google Scholar
  34. Laan R. and Verboom B. 1990. Effects of pool size and isolation on amphibian communities. Biological Conservation 54: 251–262.Google Scholar
  35. Levins R. 1970. Extinction. In: Gerstenhaber M. (ed.), Some Mathematical Questions in Biology. The American Mathematical Society, Providence, Rhode Island, USA, pp. 77–107.Google Scholar
  36. Luiselli L. and Capicci D. 1997. Influences of area, isolation and habitat features on distribution of snakes in mediterranean fragmented woodland. Biodiversity and Conservation 6: 1339–1351.Google Scholar
  37. MacArthur R.H. and Wilson E.O. 1967. The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.Google Scholar
  38. Marsh D.M., Fegraus E.H. and Harrison S. 1999. Effects of breeding pond isolation on the spatial and temporal dynamics of pond use by the tungara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus. Journal of Animal Ecology 68: 804–814.Google Scholar
  39. Matter S.F. 1996. Interpatch movement of the red milkweed beetle, Tetraopes tetraophthalmus: Individual responses to patch size and isolation. Oecologia 105: 447–453.Google Scholar
  40. McGarigal K. and Marks B. 1995. FRAGSTATS: Spatial pattern analysis program for quantifying landscape structure. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-351. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon, USA.Google Scholar
  41. Mladenoff D.J. and DeZonia B. 2000. APACK 2.14 Analysis Software: User’s Guide (Draft Version: 2-18-00). Forest Landscape Ecology Laboratory, Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.Google Scholar
  42. Okubo A. 1980. Diffusion and Ecological Problems: Mathematical Models. Springer-Verlag, New York, New York, USA.Google Scholar
  43. Opdam P. 1991. Metapopulation theory and habitat fragmentation: a review of holarctic breeding bird studies. Landscape Ecology 5: 93–106.Google Scholar
  44. Opdam P., Rijsdijk G. and Hustings F. 1985. Bird communities in small woods in an agricultural landscape: effects of area and isolation. Biological Conservation 34: 333–352.Google Scholar
  45. Paillat G. and Butet A. 1996. Spatial dynamics of the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus) in a fragmented landscape. Acta Ecologica 17: 553–559.Google Scholar
  46. Patton D.R. 1975. A diversity index for quantifying habitat “edge”. Wildlife Society Bulletin 3: 171–173.Google Scholar
  47. Perera A.H., Baldwin D.J.B. and Schnekenburger F. 1997. LEAP II: A Landscape Ecological Analysis Package for Land Use Planners and Managers. Forest Research Report no. 146. Ontario Forest Research Institute, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  48. Steel R.D.G. and Torrie J.H. 1980. Principles and Procedures of Statistics. A Biometrical Approach. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, New York, USA.Google Scholar
  49. Sutherland G.D., Harestad A.S., Price K. and Lertzman K.P. 2000. Scaling of natal dispersal distances in terrestrial birds and mammals. Conservation Ecology 4: 16.Google Scholar
  50. Szacki J., Babinska-Werka J. and Liro A. 1993. The influence of landscape spatial structure on small mammal movements. Acta Theriologica 38: 113–123.Google Scholar
  51. Tischendorf L. 2001. Can landscape indices predict ecological processes consistently? Landscape Ecology 16: 235–254.Google Scholar
  52. Tischendorf L., Bender D.J. and Fahrig L. 2002. Evaluation of patch isolation metrics in mosaic landscapes for specialist vs. generalist dispersers. Landscape Ecology (this issue).Google Scholar
  53. Tischendorf L. and Fahrig L. 2000. How should we measure landscape connectivity? Landscape Ecology 15: 633–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Trzcinski M.K., Fahrig L. and Merriam G. 1999. Independent effects of forest cover and fragmentation on the distribution of forest breeding birds. Ecological Applications 9: 586–593.Google Scholar
  55. Turchin P. 1998. Quantitative Analysis of Movement: Measuring and Modeling Population Redistribution in Animals and Plants. Sinauer, Sunderland, Massachusetts, UK.Google Scholar
  56. van Apeldoorn R.C., Oostenbrink W.T., van Winden A. and van der Zee F.F. 1992. Effects of habitat fragmentation on the bank vole, Clethrionomys glareolus, in an agricultural landscape. Oikos 65: 265–274.Google Scholar
  57. van Dorp D. and Opdam P. 1987. Effects of patch size, isolation and regional abundance on forest bird communities. Landscape Ecology 1: 59–73.Google Scholar
  58. Verboom B. and van Appledorn A. 1990. Effects of habitat fragmentation on the red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris. Landscape Ecology 4: 171–176.Google Scholar
  59. Vos C.C. and Jardon J.P. 1998. Effects of habitat fragmentation and road density on the distribution pattern of the moor frog Rana arvalis. Journal of Applied Ecology 35: 44–56.Google Scholar
  60. Vos C.C. and Stumpel H.P. 1995. Comparison of habitat-isolation parameters in relation to fragmented distribution parameters in the tree frog (Hyla arborea). Landscape Ecology 11: 203–214.Google Scholar
  61. With K.A. and King A.W. 1999. Extinction thresholds for species in fractal landscapes. Conservation Biology 13: 314–326.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darren J. Bender
    • 1
  • Lutz Tischendorf
    • 2
  • Lenore Fahrig
    • 2
  1. 1.Ottawa-Carleton Institute of BiologyCarleton University OttawaCanada
  2. 2.Ottawa-Carleton Institute of BiologyCarleton University OttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations