How does landscape structure influence landscape connectivity?

Authors

  • Brett J. Goodwin,

  • Lenore Fahrig


B. J. Goodwin and L. Fahrig, Ottawa-Carleton Inst. of Biology, Carleton Univ., 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA K1S 5B6 (present address of BJG, Inst. of Ecosystem Studies, Box AB (65 Sharon Turnpike), Millbrook, NY 12545-0129, USA [GoodwinB@ecostudies.org]).

Abstract

We investigated the impact of landscape structure on landscape connectivity using a combination of simulation and empirical experiments. In a previous study we documented the movement behaviour of a specialized goldenrod beetle (Trirhabda borealis Blake) in three kinds of patches: habitat (goldenrod) patches and two types of matrix patch (cut vegetation and cut vegetation containing camouflage netting as an impediment to movement). In the current study, we used this information to construct simulation and experimental landscapes consisting of mosaics of these three patch types, to study the effect of landscape structure on landscape connectivity, using the T. borealis beetle as a model system. In the simulation studies, landscape connectivity was based on movements of individual beetles, and was measured in six different ways. The simulations revealed that the six measures of landscape connectivity were influenced by different aspects of landscape structure, suggesting that: (1) landscape connectivity is a poorly defined concept, and (2) the same landscape may have different landscape connectivity values when different measures of landscape connectivity are used. There were two general predictions that held over all measures of landscape connectivity: (1) increasing interpatch distance significantly decreased landscape connectivity and (2) the influence of matrix elements on landscape connectivity was small in comparison to the influence of habitat elements. Empirical mark-release-resight experiments using Trirhabda beetles in experimental landscapes supported the simulation results.

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