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 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 without being hindered as they travel through agricultural or urban landscapes. This connectivity is key to population persistence, as it promotes gene flow between populations and supports higher species diversity.
Corridors can be artificially constructed, such as overpasses or underpasses on highways, for the sole purpose of funneling individuals away from anthropogenic threat. Stream corridors can consist of a network of protected watersheds that allow fish to disperse or migrate long distance without being hindered by a road blockage or dam.
Corridors can be large, as is typical in wildlands that follow mountain chains, or small, as is typical of greenways or wildlife overpasses in urban landscapes. The many different types of corridors all focus on the same goal: to ensure connectivity between isolated habitat patches so that one or many species can move freely throughout the landscape.
But, there are other ways to increase connectivity where strict conservation is not possible. It may be possible to reduce the distance between conservation areas, or to manage lands in ways that are less harsh for wildlife. Plant and animal dispersal and migration are not always incompatible with human uses of the landscape. Conservation goals often include both benefits to humans and supporting biodiversity.
For access to tools that focus on delineating, designing, and implementing corridors in the landscape, visit our Corridor Toolbox.
Keep up with recent scientific discoveries and the latest ideas for managing corridors in our Digest series of posts.