News and views on wildlife corridors, linkages, and connectivity
on Jul 01 2010
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:
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.