Characterizing the importance of habitat patches and corridors in maintaining the landscape connectivity of a Pholidoptera transsylvanica (Orthoptera) metapopulation
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Since the fragmentation of natural habitats is one of the most serious problems for many endangered species, it is highly interesting to study the properties of fragmented landscapes. As a basic property, landscape connectivity and its effects on various ecological processes are frequently in focus. First, we discuss the relevance of some graph properties in quantifying connectivity. Then, we propose a method how to quantify the relative importance of habitat patches and corridors in maintaining landscape connectivity. Our combined index explicitly considers pure topological properties and topographical measures, like the quality of both patches (local population size) and corridors (permeability). Finally, for illustration, we analyze the landscape graph of the endangered, brachypterous bush-cricket Pholidoptera transsylvanica. The landscape contains 11 patches and 13 corridors and is situated on the Aggtelek Karst, NE-Hungary. We characterize the importance of each node and link of the graph by local and global network indices. We show how different measures of connectivity may suggest different conservation preferences. We conclude, accordingly to our present index, by identifying one specific habitat patch and one specific corridor being in the most critical positions in maintaining connectivity.
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