A Comparison of Corridors and Intrinsic Connectivity to Promote Dispersal in Transient Successional Landscapes

  • Tiebout III H
  • Anderson R
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Abstract

Low-vagility organisms that specialize on transitory successional habitats may be especially depen- dent upon habitat connectivity to maintain population viability. We analyzed the theoretical intrinsic con- nectivity of successional landscapes (i.e., the natural juxtaposition of similar habitats that allows dispersal) as a function of patch geometry coupled with the disperser’s habitat specificity. Habitat specialists living in poorly connected landscapes (approximating hexagonal patches) have only a 26.5% chance of colonizing a new site when their resident patch becomes unsuitable. In contrast, generalists living in well connected land- scapes can virtually always colonize a new site when needed. We infer from our simulation that for some habitat specialists, such as the rare, endemic Florida scrub lizard ( Sceloporus woodi ), anthropogenic control of successional dynamics for commercial logging may significantly reduce intrinsic connectivity. Lizard pop- ulation viability may now depend upon the extrinsic connectivity provided by artificial corridors. However, the use of corridors will not serve as a general solution to the problem of anthropogenically reduced intrinsic connectivity until key logistical design problems have been resolved. Moreover, efforts to enhance intrinsic connectivity by modifying patch geometry may produce undesirable edge effects and conflict with old-growth preservation. Future research should focus on developing spatially explicit corridor models, documenting nat- ural levels of intrinsic connectivity, quantifying anthropogenic disruption of natural connectivity, and de- scribing species-specific mechanisms of inter-patch dispersal.

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Authors

  • Harry M. Tiebout III

  • Roger a. Anderson

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