by Tonje Stolpestad (tstolpes)
Identifying future research needs in landscape ecology: where to from here.
Landscape genetics is an emerging interdisciplinary field that combines methods and concepts from population genetics, landscape ecology, and spatial statistics. The interest in landscape genetics is steadily increasing, and the field is evolving rapidly. We here outline four major challenges for future landscape genetic research that were identified during an international landscape genetics workshop. These challenges include (1) the identification of appropriate spatial and temporal scales; (2) current analytical limitations; (3) the expansion of the current focus in landscape genetics; and (4) interdisciplinary communication and education. Addressing these research challenges will greatly improve landscape genetic applications, and positively contribute to the future growth of this promising field.
Anthropogenic disturbances, like roads, increase the landscape fragmentation and affect wildlife migration and biodiversity. Such disturbances often prevent migration of wildlife due to increased barriers and mortality effects.
The aim of our simulation based approach is to assess the landscape permeability considering anthropogenic disturbances. The developed framework SimapD imposes an abstract view of a habitat network, based on an undirected graph. The simulation is done by an individual-oriented approach, where individuals explore the idealized network. Based on the information gained during the simulation, an overall network permeability index is calculated, which can be used to compare different scenarios of landscape development. Disturbances are represented by sub-models, from which appropriate resistance and mortality rates can be deduced. In this paper this is demonstrated by the construction of a fuzzy road kill model for the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. The utilization of the network permeability index and a comparison to other fragmentation measures is shown by an exemplary application.
Movement Corridors: Conservation Bargains or Poor Investments
Corridors for movement of organisms between refuges are confounded with corridors designed for other functions, obscuring an assessment of cost-effectiveness. The rationales for movement corridors are (1) to lower extinction rate in the sense of the equilibrium theory, (2) to lessen demographic stochasticity, (3) to stem inbreeding depression, and (4) to fulfill an inherent need for movement. There is a paucity of data showing how corridors are used and whether this use lessens extinction by solving these problems. Small, isolated populations need not be doomed to quick extinction from endogenous forces such as inbreeding depression or demographic stochasticity, if their habitats are protected from humans. In specific instances, corridors could have biological disadvantages. Corridor proposals cannot be adequately judged generically. In spite of weak theoretical and empirical bases, numerous movement corridor projects are planned. In the State of Florida, multi-million-dollar corridor proposals are unsupported by data on which species might use the corridors and to what effect. Similarly, plans for massive corridor networks to counter extinction caused by global warming are weakly supported. Alternative approaches not mutually exclusive of corridors might be more effective, but such a judgment cannot be made without a cost-benefit analysis.
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