On the usage and measurement of landscape connectivity


  • Lutz Tischendorf,

  • Lenore Fahrig

L. Tischendorf and L. Fahrig, Ottawa-Carleton Inst. of Biology, Carleton Univ., Ottawa, ON, Canada K1S 5B6 (present address of LT: Busestrasse 76, D-28213 Bremen, Germany [tischendorf@clavis-bremen.de]).


This paper examines the usage and measurement of “landscape connectivity” in 33 recent studies. Connectivity is defined as the degree to which a landscape facilitates or impedes movement of organisms among resource patches. However, connectivity is actually used in a variety of ways in the literature. This has led to confusion and lack of clarity related to (1) function vs structure, (2) patch isolation vs landscape connectivity and, (3) corridors vs connectivity. We suggest the term connectivity should be reserved for its original purpose. We highlight nine studies; these include modeling studies that actually measured connectivity in accordance with the definition, and empirical studies that measured key components of connectivity. We found that measurements of connectivity provide results that can be interpreted as recommending habitat fragmentation to enhance landscape connectivity. We discuss reasons for this misleading conclusion, and suggest a new way of quantifying connectivity, which avoids this problem. We also recommend a method for reducing sampling intensity in landscape-scale empirical studies of connectivity.