Mapping Habitat Connectivity Priority Areas that are Climate-wise and Multi-scale, for Three Regions of California
Habitat connectivity is a cornerstone of conservation, as its key goal is to connect an increasingly fragmented landscape, allowing for gene flow between wildlife meta-populations (Taylor et al. 1993; Beier & Noss 1998). A well-connected landscape is also critical for the viability of many species in the face of climate change, as it allows for movement necessary to track suitable climate (Beier et al. 2008; Keeley et al. 2018).
This is an “action research” project that makes scientific products necessary for conservation decision-making, while also applying additional methods to explore scientific frontiers. It is anticipated that the applied work will help the most locally, and the exploration of novel methods will help more with the global biodiversity challenge.
The applied conservation science assignment was to prioritize and map areas important for wildlife habitat connectivity within several regions in California: the Modoc Plateau, the Sacramento Valley, and the West Mojave Desert (Figure 1). These regions are important for alternative energy expansion in order to meet California’s ambitious plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Identifying critical pathways for wildlife movement in these regions would help the state avoid or minimize impacts in these areas. In general, there are two ways to conserve connectivity in a region – (1) conserve more habitats in key areas that facilitate movement and (2) mitigate landscape features that impede movement, such as roads, railroads, and urban development (Ament et al. 2014). Our connectivity analysis results were used in combination with other conservation factors to answer these questions: what areas should be conserved or avoided? What areas may need mitigation for any kind of development?
Gallo, JA, J. Strittholt, G. Joseph, H. Rustigian-Romsos, R. Degagne, J. Brice, and A. Prisbrey. 2019. Mapping Habitat Connectivity Priority Areas that are Climate-wise and Multi-scale,for Three Regions of California. Conservation Biology Institute. March 6.
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