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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19077

Title: Maintaining Habitat Connectivity for Conservation
Authors: Rayfield, Bronwyn
Advisor: Fortin, Marie-Josee
Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Keywords: reserve selection
network theory
Issue Date: 19-Feb-2010
Abstract: Conserving biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes requires protecting networks of ecological reserves and managing the intervening matrix to maintain the potential for species to move among them. This dissertation provides original insights towards (1) identifying areas for protection in reserves that are critical to maintain biodiversity and (2) assessing the potential for species' movements among habitat patches in a reserve network. I develop and test methods that will facilitate conservation planning to promote viable, resilient populations through time. The first part of this dissertation tests and develops reserve selection strategies that protect either a single focal species in a dynamic landscape or multiple interacting species in a static landscape. Using a simulation model of boreal forest dynamics, I test the effectiveness of static and dynamic reserves to maintain spatial habitat requirements of a focal species, American Marten (Martes americana). Dynamic reserves improved upon static reserves but re-locating reserves was constrained by fragmentation of the matrix. Management of the spatial and temporal distribution of land-uses in the matrix will therefore be essential to retain options for re-locating reserves in the future. Additionally, to include essential consumer-resource interactions into reserve selection, a new algorithm is presented for American marten and its two primary prey species. The inclusion of their interaction had the benefit t of producing spatially aggregated reserves based on functional species requirements. The second part of this dissertation evaluates and synthesizes the network-theoretic approach to quantify connectivity among habitat patches or reserves embedded within spatially heterogeneous landscapes. I conduct a sensitivity analysis of network-theoretic connectivity analyses that derive least-cost movement behavior from the underlying cost surface which describes the relative ecological costs of dispersing through different landcover types. Landscape structure is shown to aff ect how sensitive least-cost graph connectivity assessments are to the quality (relative cost values) of landcover types. I develop a conceptual framework to classify network connectivity statistics based on the component of habitat connectivity that they quantify and the level within the network to which they can be applied. Together, the combination of reserve design and network connectivity analyses provide complementary insights to inform spatial planning decisions for conservation.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19077
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology - Doctoral theses

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