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Landscape connectivity and spatial prioritization in an urbanising world: a network analysis approach for a threatened amphibian

Matos, Cátia; Petrovan, Silviu O.; Wheeler, Philip M.; Ward, Alastair I.


Cátia Matos

Silviu O. Petrovan

Philip M. Wheeler

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Dr Alastair Ward
Head of Department, Biological and Marine Sciences


C Matos
Project Manager

SO Petrovan
Project Member

PM Wheeler


Habitat fragmentation affects amphibian populations worldwide. Urban expansion and associated infrastructure (e.g., roads) are the main cause of degradation and loss of landscape-scale habitat connectivity. Mitigation measures such as barriers and underpasses the construction of corridors are frequently implemented to reduce the impacts of development on protected species. However, despite the obvious potential for consequences for outcomes at multiple scales, such efforts generally focus on local outcomes rather than envisioning how the mitigation may contribute to habitat connectivity and populations persistence at a landscape scale. We used a graph-theoretical approach to model structural and functional connectivity (corridors) for a widespread but declining endangered pond-breeding amphibian, the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus), by assessing movement among breeding ponds associated with at different processes scales (dispersal, migration and colonization) in. The newts occupied a landscape with different levels of urban and rural development and linear barriers (e.g., roads of different sizes and railwaywith different permeabilities to amphibian movements). This analysis provides critical information to understand the potential capacity for larger scale impacts of mitigation measures (e.g. corridors). We used recent regional pond survey data from great crested newts combined with published data on movement and habitat use to to develop a framework to explore calculate connectivity at the landscape scale-level using estimated annual home-range patches around breeding ponds as terrestrial and wetland habitat units. We identified calculated potential areas of area for terrestrial movement corridors and assessed how landscape connectivity was investigated linkages between patches (potential movement corridors), and then analysed how these linkages were affected by landscape characteristics, such as habitat quality and quantity, and scale of movement and varied between two scenarios representing different degrees of road permeability. The different permeability of linear features (e.g., roads) that cross dispersal corridors influence the effectiveness of the corridor by affecting newt movement. Our results indicate that assessing linear barriers to movement and accounting for differences in their permeabilities is critical to understanding their impact on both shorter term migratory and longer-term dispersal aspect of planning corridors for successful movements in great crested newts. Animal movement is important at various scales, to the individual, the population, and the persistence of species across a landscape. The application of corridors as a mitigation for roads is a workable conservation action but is markedly improved by i Incorporating landscape-scale connectivity modelling which includes to identify the impact of barriers such as roads would substantially improve population-level outcomes from mitigation schemes. We suggest that an understanding of the far-reaching consequences of “road mitigation” (e.g. on, colonization of sites) as well as immediate, local effects (e.g., individual survival), combined with our method of assessing road impacts/permeability could transform future mitigation efforts by directing action to places that not only improve individual survival but that also maximise connectivity at the landscape scale.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2019-09
Journal Biological Conservation
Print ISSN 0006-3207
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 237
Pages 238-247
APA6 Citation Matos, C., Petrovan, S. O., Wheeler, P. M., & Ward, A. I. (2019). Landscape connectivity and spatial prioritization in an urbanising world: a network analysis approach for a threatened amphibian. Biological Conservation, 237, 238-247.
Keywords Connectivity; Dispersal; Graph theory; Great crested newt; Home-range patches; Migration; Pond network; Road mitigation
Publisher URL
Additional Information ©2019, Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license


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Copyright Statement
©2019, Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

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