Least-cost modeling for focal species is the most widely used method for designing conservation corridors and linkages. However, these designs depend on today's land covers, which will be altered by climate change. We recently proposed an alternative approach based on land facets (recurring landscape units of relatively uniform topography and soils). The rationale is that corridors with high continuity of individual land facets will facilitate movement of species associated with each facet today and in the future. Conservation practitioners might like to know whether a linkage design based on land facets is likely to provide continuity of modeled breeding habitat for species needing connectivity today, and whether a linkage for focal species provides continuity and interspersion of land facets. To address these questions, we compared linkages designed for focal species and land facets in three landscapes in Arizona, USA. We used two variables to measure linkage utility, namely distances between patches of modeled breeding habitat for 5-16 focal species in each linkage, and resistance profiles for focal species and land facets between patches connected by the linkage. Compared to focal species designs, linkage designs based on land facets provided as much or more modeled habitat connectivity for 25 of 28 species-landscape combinations, failing only for the three species with the most narrowly distributed habitat. Compared to land facets designs, focal species linkages provided lower connectivity for about half the land facets in two landscapes. In areas where a focal species approach to linkage design is not possible, our results suggest that conservation practitioners may be able to implement a land facets approach with some confidence that the linkage design would serve most potential focal species. In areas where focal species designs are possible, we recommend using the land facet approach to complement, rather than replace, focal species approaches.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)