Importance of Backyard Habitat in a Comprehensive Biodiversity Conservation Strategy: A Connectivity Analysis of Urban Green Spaces

Authors

  • Hillary Rudd,

    1. Douglas College Centre for Environmental Studies and Urban Ecology , P.O. Box 2503, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada V3L 5B2
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  • Jamie Vala,

    1. Douglas College Centre for Environmental Studies and Urban Ecology , P.O. Box 2503, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada V3L 5B2
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  • Valentin Schaefer

    Corresponding author
    1. Douglas College Centre for Environmental Studies and Urban Ecology , P.O. Box 2503, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada V3L 5B2
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  Corresponding author: Tel.: (604) 527-5224; Fax: (604) 527-5095; E-mail: val_schaefer@douglas.bc.ca

Abstract

Connectivity has been an accepted goal in ecological restoration of wilderness areas for some time, but it is a relatively new approach in urban areas. The connectivity analysis presented here explores the numbers and patterns of corridors required to connect urban green spaces as part of an overall biodiversity conservation strategy. Green spaces in this study were weighted based on size and a habitat requirement of 0.5 ha for a hypothetical indicator species. Thirteen potential networks were evaluated using Gamma, Beta, and Cost Ratio indices. The study zone contained 54 green spaces (habitat nodes) with a combined area of 636.5 ha in a total urban area of approximately 2,600 ha. Several models (Travelling Salesman, Paul Revere, and Least Cost to User) were used to evaluate possible connections. These results indicated that at least 325 linkages are necessary to connect half of the nodes. Such large numbers of linkages are only feasible by enhancing the matrix of backyard habitat, planted boulevards, and utility rights-of way found in a city. Strengthening such networks should work well to support the biota protected in urban parks and wildlife refuges and the seasonal migrants that sometimes depend on urban habitats for their survival.

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