Corridor Design Blog

News and views on wildlife corridors, linkages, and connectivity

Posted by
Dan Majka
on Jul 01 2010

New tools available: designing corridors for climate change

To design wildlife linkages that will be useful in the face of impending climate change, Brian Brost, Jeff Jenness, and Paul Beier developed procedures to identify the geographic portion of a region that maximizes continuity and diversity of landscape units defined by topographic and soil traits (such as high-elevation north-facing slopes with rocky soils, or low-elevation flats with thick soils).

We refer to these topographic-soil units as land facets. The rationale is that future vegetation (and, indirectly, animal assemblages) will be determined primarily by the interaction among land facets (soil and topography) and future climate regimes.

Until now, practitioners designed corridors to promote movement of focal species through today’s land cover map. Because land cover maps are likely to change in this century, any corridor linkage based on those maps might fail during climate change. By conserving strands of land facets, linkage designs based on our new procedures should preserve the “arenas” that support current and future biodiversity, without relying on the modeled responses of the temporary occupants of those arenas.

We have tested these procedures in 3 landscapes in Arizona, and recommend that they be used to complement, not replace, procedures based on focal species. Jump to the CorridorDesign downloads page to get:

  • ArcGIS 9.3 tools for designing corridors of land facets, including an on-line User's Manual. These tools must be used in concert with certain statistical procedures outside ArcGIS.
  • A package of statistical procedures in R, and an accompanying User Manual. These procedures process outputs from ArcGIS to produce new data that can easily be imported back into ArcGIS for the final linkage design.
  • Brian Brost's MS thesis, which describes how the procedures were developed. The thesis also applies the procedures to three landscapes in Arizona, and describes how well the linkage design for land facets matches linkage designs for multiple focal species in the same landscape.
  • pdf reprint of a paper introducing the concept of using land facets to design linkages: Beier, P., and B. Brost. 2010. Use of land facets to plan for climate change: conserving the arenas, not the actors. Conservation Biology 24: 701-710.

We thank Rocky Mountain Research Station of USDA Forest Service and the Arizona Board of Forestry for financial support to develop these procedures and tools.