Landscape Connectivity

Fragmentation of natural landscapes have lead scientists and land managers to consider ways of improving connectivity between remnants to supporting species’ conservation.  Improving landscape connectivity has a become a primary goal of many government and non-government agencies, as well as many local conservation groups.

There is no shortage of ideas of good ideas for enhancing landscape connectivity.  However there are a number of critical questions that need to be considered before embarking on large scale programs that require long-term investment. Identifying appropriate locations is one of these key questions.

Connectivity efforts are often focussed on a single species and at a single scale.  In a recent project with collaborators from Deakin University we developed an approach to investigate options for multiple species and at multiple scales across large spatial extents.  The approach required several steps including:

1) selecting a suite of representative of fauna species that use different habitat features and operate at varying spatial scales

2) developing species distribution models for each species

3) identifying the core habitat areas for each species

4) developing models of landscape connectivity for each species using Circuitscape and other software packages.

5) Post-processing these and other spatial representations of the species.

6) Integrating these spatial representations of the species distribution, home range, short and long distance dispersal options using Zonation.

7) Integrating these summary models for each species in a further step also using Zonation.

The results will be used a tool by regional community groups to foster discussions on conservation planning at multiple scales and locations.  While this modelling exercise and its outputs cannot supply a definitive ‘answer’ to where to reconnect fragmented native vegetation, it can provide a multi-species view that maybe difficult to consider otherwise, and provide a context for discussion that will consider social and economic constraints to the plan.