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Early warning signals for landscape connectivity and resilient conservation solutions

Li, Yi, Yin, Bingchao, Li, Yangfan
Land degradation & development 2019 v.30 no.1 pp. 73-83
animals, anthropogenic activities, biodiversity, coasts, conservation areas, forests, grasslands, habitat connectivity, landscapes, permeability, temperature, China
The ever‐increasing and unprecedented impacts of human activities on natural landscapes are dramatically altering the heterogeneity of habitats and biodiversity. We developed a holistic resilience‐based framework to identify the early warning points of climate‐gradient landscape connectivity; the results offer the first map capable of providing information about landscape connectivity in the coastal provinces of mainland China. The results show that only 24% of natural/seminatural lands retained sufficient connectivity, which is considered to be high‐quality patches for animals to move through temperature gradient corridors. Moreover, the critical junctions, such as the tipping points and early warning points of landscape connectivity, were mainly detected in seminatural lands (forests and grasslands). Increasing connections in these seminatural lands initiated the permeability of landscape connectivity in coastal areas, which are essential for accessing suitable habitats with low temperatures. By connecting fragmented patches into a landscape network, the transition zones in seminatural lands highlight priority locations for ecologists and conservation managers as natural solutions to configure the most effective conservation areas.