COS 30-6
Restoring connectivity: A holistic approach for multiple species

Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 9:50 AM
L100J, Minneapolis Convention Center
Sara Torrubia, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Joshua J. Lawler, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Brad McRae, The Nature Conservancy, Seattle, WA
Sonia A. Hall, The Nature Conservancy, Wenatchee, WA

Connectivity analyses have largely focused on producing maps of corridors connecting patches of suitable habitat. These maps provide a good starting point for addressing connectivity, but they have two drawbacks. First, they do not provide enough guidance on how to take action to protect or increase connectivity.  Second, these maps generally only address a single species. Given that resources and land-ownership patterns rarely if ever allow for conservation and restoration of full corridors, what is needed is a more targeted set of analyses that identify specific places on the landscape that can be protected or restored to increase connectivity for multiple species. Such multifaceted analysis would provide conservation practitioners with the detailed information they need to allocate scarce funds most effectively.  Here, we apply a new analytical approach that integrates three different metrics of connectivity to pin-point specific places that provide the highest return on investment in connectivity for multiple species on the Columbia Plateau, USA.

We integrated measures of barriers to movement, centrality of flow, and connectivity pinch-points to locate areas for targeting restoration to enhance connectivity for 11 sagebrush steppe species.


We have identified several priority areas for restoration of agricultural lands that will enhance connectivity for multiple species.  The areas identified are critical for maintaining movement through the full network of habitat patches for these species and they will either remove existing barriers or will increase movement opportunities where bottlenecks currently exist.  These individual areas are likely to benefit from x to x of the 11 species.   We are working with The Nature Conservancy in Washington, the Washington Habitat Connectivity Working Group, and the Arid Lands Initiative to implement these findings on the ground to improve connectivity for wildlife of the Columbia Plateau.