Urban corridors: research updates around the globe

Growing cities mean an increased need for landscape planning, as well as the opportunity to preserve biodiversity through well-connected green spaces.  How well do ecological corridors work in places where humans dominate?  Recent research looks at the effectiveness of urban corridors, and provides new methods for planning and implementation:

 

  • Urban wildlife corridors are successful in helping elephants pass through agriculture, industrial, and recreational land in Botswana.  Large mammals such as elephants are able to move more quickly through broad corridors than through narrow ones, and their movement patterns are affected by season, time of day, and rainfall.

Adams, T. S. F., M. J. Chase, T. L. Rogers, and K. E. A. Leggett. 2017. Taking the elephant out of the room and into the corridor: can urban corridors work? Oryx 51: 347-353.

  • Non-motorized human recreation has only a small negative impact on habitat use and activity patterns of medium and large mammals in protected areas and wildlife corridors of the San Francisco Bay region.  Wildlife may be less likely to alter their normal patterns if recreational areas limit the presence of domestic dogs and provide trail-free buffers.

Reilly, M. L., M. W. Tobler, D. L. Sonderegger, and P. Beier. 2017. Spatial and temporal response of wildlife to recreational activities in the San Francisco Bay ecoregion. Biological Conservation 207: 117-126.

  • Urban ecological corridors in human-dominated Shenzhen, China are under constant threat from urban expansion.  Ecological conservation, land use, and sustainable development can be better assessed and planned for using a new proposed space regulatory framework and ecological sensitivity evaluation model.

Hong, W., R. Guo, M. Su, H. Tang, L. Chen, and W. Hu. 2017. Sensitivity evaluation and land-use control of urban ecological corridors: a case study of Shenzhen, China. Land Use Policy 62: 316-325.

  • The City Biodiversity Index is a tool to monitor biodiversity in cities and includes the measurement of connectivity of natural areas.  A new method for measuring connectivity accounts for both within-patch connectivity and major barriers, and successfully applies to projects in Lisbon and Montreal.  The improved metric provides a simple and practical way for city planners to measure connectivity and biodiversity.

Deslauriers, M. R., A. Asgary, N. Nazarnia, and J. A. G. Jaeger. 2017. Implementing the connectivity of natural areas in cities as an indicator in the City Biodiversity Index (CBI). Ecological Indicators.

  • European hedgehogs in Zurich, Switzerland occur in three distinct genetic clusters separated by the main rivers and parallel running highways.  Urban green areas are the only type of landcover that facilitate connectivity and gene flow, which is best predicted using multi-path models based on detailed GPS movement data.

Braaker, S., U. Kormann, F. Bontadina, and M. K. Obrist. 2017. Prediction of genetic connectivity in urban ecosystems by combining detailed movement data, genetic data and multi-path modelling. Landscape and Urban Planning 160: 107-114.

  • The demolition of empty buildings in Buffalo, NY – which reverts their sites back to a “natural” state – does not increase avian species richness across the city.  Relying on citizen science data (such as eBird in the U.S.) for cities can be complicated by the fact that participants are more likely to sample areas with greater green space connectivity rather than areas such as former demolition sites.

Walker, C. M., K. C. Flynn, G. A. Ovando-Montejo, E. A. Ellis, and A. E. Frazier. 2017. Does demolition improve biodiversity? Linking urban green space and socioeconomic characteristics to avian richness in a shrinking city. Urban Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1007/s11252-017-0671-4.

Resources

Adams, T. S. F., M. J. Chase, T. L. Rogers, and K. E. A. Leggett. 2017. Taking the elephant out of the room and into the corridor: can urban corridors work? Oryx 51: 347-353.

Braaker, S., U. Kormann, F. Bontadina, and M. K. Obrist. 2017. Prediction of genetic connectivity in urban ecosystems by combining detailed movement data, genetic data and multi-path modelling. Landscape and Urban Planning 160: 107-114.

Deslauriers, M. R., A. Asgary, N. Nazarnia, and J. A. G. Jaeger. 2017. Implementing the connectivity of natural areas in cities as an indicator in the City Biodiversity Index (CBI). Ecological Indicators.

Hong, W., R. Guo, M. Su, H. Tang, L. Chen, and W. Hu. 2017. Sensitivity evaluation and land-use control of urban ecological corridors: a case study of Shenzhen, China. Land Use Policy 62: 316-325.

Reilly, M. L., M. W. Tobler, D. L. Sonderegger, and P. Beier. 2017. Spatial and temporal response of wildlife to recreational activities in the San Francisco Bay ecoregion. Biological Conservation 207: 117-126.

Walker, C. M., K. C. Flynn, G. A. Ovando-Montejo, E. A. Ellis, and A. E. Frazier. 2017. Does demolition improve biodiversity? Linking urban green space and socioeconomic characteristics to avian richness in a shrinking city. Urban Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1007/s11252-017-0671-4.

 

2017-04-25T13:05:14+00:00 April 25th, 2017|

About the Author:

Heather Cayton
Heather Cayton is the Managing Director of ConservationCorridor.org and a Research Assistant at Michigan State University. She received her B.S. from the University of Virginia and her M.S. from Virginia Tech, and has spent the past nine years studying corridors and rare butterflies in North Carolina.