The matrix alters the role of path redundancy on patch colonization rates

Authors

  • Robert J. Fletcher Jr.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, 110 Newins-Ziegler Hall, P.O. Box 110430, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0430 USA
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  • Miguel A. Acevedo,

    1. Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, 110 Newins-Ziegler Hall, P.O. Box 110430, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0430 USA
    2. School of Natural Resources and Environment, 103 Black Hall, P.O. Box 116455, Gainesville, Florida 32611 USA
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  • Ellen P. Robertson

    1. Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, 110 Newins-Ziegler Hall, P.O. Box 110430, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0430 USA
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  • Corresponding Editor: B. D. Inouye.

Abstract

Landscape connectivity is central to many problems in ecology and conservation. Recently, the role of path redundancies on movement of organisms has been emphasized for understanding connectivity, because increasing the number of potential paths (i.e., redundancy) is predicted to increase movement rates, which can alter predictions for foraging theory and population dynamics. Nonetheless, experiments that test for the effects of path redundancies on connectivity remain scarce. We tested for the role of path redundancies on the movements of a habitat specialist, Chelinidea vittiger, using experimental arenas that altered path redundancy by varying the amount and configuration of stepping stones across a gradient of matrix resistance. We found that stepping-stone redundancies increased colonization rates to target patches, but the effects differed depending on the configuration of redundancy and the structure of the matrix. In addition, matrix effects were better explained through the use of effective distance measures that incorporate redundancy in the matrix than those that ignore redundancy. Our results provide experimental evidence that measures that ignore redundancies may be inadequate for capturing functional connectivity, illustrate the ways in which redundancies alter colonization rates, and emphasize how habitat configuration and matrix structure can interact to guide movement of individuals across landscapes.

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