Connectivity, dispersal behaviour and conservation under climate change: a response to Hodgson et al.

Authors

  • Veronica A. J. Doerr,

    Corresponding author
    1. CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, GPO Box 284, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
    2. Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia;
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  • Tom Barrett,

    1. New South Wales Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water, PO Box 494, Armidale NSW 2350, Australia
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  • Erik D. Doerr

    1. CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, GPO Box 284, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
    2. Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia;
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Correspondence author. E-mail: veronica.doerr@csiro.au

Summary

1. Hodgson et al. [Journal of Applied Ecology46 (2009) 964] argue that connectivity is complex and uncertain, that it can be improved incidentally by increasing habitat extent, and that connectivity conservation is unlikely to be effective under climate change.

2. We believe that they have overlooked recent research on dispersal behaviour and structural connectivity, which has improved our understanding of functional connectivity and revealed that it will not necessarily increase with habitat extent.

3. New modelling techniques including least-cost path models incorporate this more detailed understanding of connectivity into conservation planning, facilitating the true aim of connectivity conservation – to ensure appropriate interactions between habitat extent, quality and connectivity.

4.Synthesis and applications. Advances in behavioural research and modelling techniques allow us to manage structural connectivity with as much certainty as we manage extent and quality of habitat. Successful landscape conservation to address both current threats and future climate change must manage these three elements in concert.

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