Review: a decade of research on connectivity for biodiversity conservation

The rapid increase over the last decade in the number of studies, methods and applications relating to habitat connectivity for biodiversity conservation highlights a growing research interest in this topic.  In our recent paper, we present a review of the scientific literature on habitat connectivity based on 162 publications  from 2000 to 2013. We evaluated the current analytical approaches and applications of the study of connectivity for biodiversity conservation. Additionally, we identified research tools, techniques, and conservation objectives to signal gaps in knowledge and offer practical suggestions for future studies in this area.

number_papersWe identified a substantial increase since 2008 in publications that incorporate the study of habitat connectivity in conservation.  This was related to the boom in new approaches based on graph theory and circuit theory, and in new methods focused on spatial conservation planning. In 2013 we found a significant increase in publications related to climate change adaption. This included studies identifying the suitability of functional linkages to address the effects of climate change on habitat, and studies evaluating the effectiveness of protected areas to conserve biodiversity under different climate change scenarios.

Nearly half of the articles explicitly raised the issue of identifying or proposing conservation corridors. However, we found a general lack in validation of these proposals, and in the practical application of the results of connectivity studies in actual conservation programs (e.g. converting corridor modelling to real conservation corridors). We identified four important focal points that need development in studies of habitat connectivity for biodiversity conservation: connectivity and climate change, connectivity and restoration planning, connectivity and land use/cover change modeling and planning, and connectivity and ecosystem services across the landscape.

Resources

Correa Ayram, C. A., M. E. Mendoza, A. Etter, and D. R. Pérez Salicrup. 2016. Habitat connectivity in biodiversity conservation: a review of recent studies and applications.  Progress in Physical Geography 40(1): 7-37.

2016-10-14T10:10:27+00:00 March 8th, 2016|

About the Author:

Camilo Correa

Camilo Correa received his bachelor’s degree in Ecology from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá, Colombia and is a PhD candidate in Environmental Geography at the Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He also received a master’s degree in Geography (orientation in Integrated Landscape Management) from the same university. His dissertation focuses on the integration of landscape connectivity models in spatial conservation planning in a highly biodiverse landscape of Mexico. He is also interested in evaluating human spatial footptrint on ecological process at the landscape level and the effects of climate change and land use/cover change on habitat connectivity.