Corridor FAQ 2019-10-31T09:43:46-04:00

Corridor FAQ

Landscape connectivity refers to the ability of plants or animals to move freely through a landscape.

The main goal of connectivity is to facilitate movement of individuals, through both dispersal and migration, so that gene flow is maintained between local populations. By linking populations throughout the landscape, there is a lower chance for extinction and greater support for species richness. More connectivity means fewer barriers to dispersal or migration and less fragmentation in the landscape.

Connectivity can be a characteristic of both terrestrial and marine environments. 

The IUCN WCPA Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group defines an ecological corridor as “a clearly defined geographical space, not recognized as a protected area or other effective area-based conservation measure, that is  governed and managed over the long-term to conserve or restore effective ecological connectivity, with associated ecosystem services and cultural and spiritual values.”  This means a corridor is habitat that naturally exists in the landscape and needs to be maintained, enhanced, or restored so that species can use it to meet their needs.

Others define corridors more broadly.  For example, some consider corridors to include man-made linkages, such as wildlife underpasses and overpasses that span roads or railways.  These can be referred to as wildlife crossings, such as the highways crossings in Banff National Park. They are important in limiting human-wildlife conflict and increasing connectivity in a region bisected by linear infrastructure.  Others consider corridors to include large-scale ecological networks, such as the Y2Y region in western North America or the Jaguar Corridor Initiative in Central and South America.

Corridors work by increasing connectivity between patches that are isolated by habitat fragmentation, often (but not always) caused by human intervention such as urbanization, agriculture, and forestry.

Plants and animals can use corridors for both dispersal and migration, two key movement patterns for species persistence. The human-dominated habitats surrounding more natural areas present barriers that plants and animals are unable or highly reluctant to move through. These inhospitable places may have issues such as higher abundances of predators, lower resource availability, or reduced shelter.

When a corridor is present, however, it provides an unbroken path of suitable habitat that can provide safe passage for animals or plants as they travel through landscapes. This connectivity is key to population persistence, as it promotes gene flow between populations and supports higher species diversity.

Connectivity can be achieved by means other than corridors, but corridors remain the most effective way. For example, stepping stones are small patches of habitat that allow species to move through the landscape without a continuous corridor, but they require individuals to traverse through lower quality habitat in between.  Assisted migration, where humans physically move individuals to a new, better location that they might not otherwise reach, can help populations, but remains controversial as a management tool.  Corridors, which provide continuous habitat for species to move on their own, are a reasonable and effective means for ensuring connectivity in the landscape.
Structural connectivity refers to the way a corridor is built.  A corridor or connected path has a physical presence in the landscape, and the way the elements of the corridor and the landscape interact is structural connectivity.

Functional connectivity refers to the way a corridor serves species’ needs. A corridor or connected path is considered to have high functional connectivity if it allows for a lot of individual dispersal and movement, and it supports ecological processes.

Structural connectivity highlights the corridor from a landscape perspective, and functional connectivity highlights the corridor from a species’ perspective.

There are numerous examples of corridors and connectivity projects in dozens of countries across six continents.  We’ve highlighted just a few of these examples in our sections on Corridor Experiments, Man-made Linkages, Natural Corridors, and Large-scale Networks.  We also have a Corridor Map of Man-Made Linkages that provides examples with pictures and further links.
Research has shown that there are both benefits and drawbacks to linkages in the landscape. Overall evidence supports the creation of corridors and connected landscapes, with the positive impacts far outweigh the negative ones.  Visit our Corridor Concerns page for a discussion of concerns and links to research papers.
There are numerous tools, programs, and webpages geared specifically toward corridor creation.  Our Corridor Toolbox contains several of the most commonly used tools, and are useful whether you’re a beginner looking for information or an experienced planner looking for a specific program.
For tools that can be used to delineate, design, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of corridors and connectivity, visit our Corridor Toolbox.

For examples of other corridors being implemented and managed, see our sections on Corridor Experiments, Man-made Linkages, Natural Corridors, and Large-scale Networks.

For a list of over 300 publications covering 30 years of corridor science, management, and climate change, check out our Library.  We also have a unique Connectivity Plans Library that features almost 300 detailed management plans for specific conservation regions across the globe.

Our special feature on Technical Guides provides comprehensive details about each stage of creating and maintaining corridors and connectivity in the landscape.

Keep up with with recent scientific discoveries and the latest ideas for managing corridors in our Digest series of posts.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for links to daily news and updates.

For resources on publications, examples of corridors, tools for delineating corridors, and more, visit our Student Resources page.

For lesson plans specifically geared toward use in educational settings, see our Teacher Resources page.

Keep up with recent scientific discoveries and the latest ideas for managing corridors in our Digest series of posts.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for links to daily news and updates.

For a list of over 300 publications covering 30 years of corridor science, management, and climate change, check out our Library. You can search publications by year, author, or title, or filter them by one of five themes: Community, Policy, Practice, Science, or Technical.

For links to commonly used connectivity programs such as Cicuitscape, Linkage Mapper, Zonation, and packages for R, visit our Corridor Toolbox.

Keep up with recent scientific discoveries and the latest ideas for managing corridors in our Digest series of posts.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for links to daily news and updates.

For lesson plans specifically geared toward use in educational settings at a variety of grade levels, see our Teacher Resources page.

For resources specifically geared towards students on publications, examples of corridors, and tools for delineating corridors, visit our Student Resources page

Keep up with recent scientific discoveries and the latest ideas for managing corridors in our Digest series of posts.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for links to daily news and updates.

experimental_patches
riparian_diagram
corridor_overpass