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Effect of the landscape matrix condition for prioritizing multispecies connectivity conservation in a highly biodiverse landscape of Central Mexico

Correa Ayram, Camilo A., Mendoza, Manuel E., Etter, Andrés, Pérez-Salicrup, Diego R.
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 149-163
Danaus plexippus, conservation areas, ecological function, habitat connectivity, landscapes, models, monitoring, prioritization, Mexico
Implementing and monitoring long-term conservation strategies demands identifying priorities for preserving landscape connectivity. In this manuscript, we present an approach to prioritize areas for preserving landscape connectivity by using the landscape matrix in central-western Mexico and the connectivity for habitat patches considering ensembles of different terrestrial organisms. We aggregated three multispecies connectivity scenarios into a composite corridor scenario. To evaluate which corridors were more important to multispecies connectivity, we used the composite corridor model based on two ways: (1) the contribution of habitat patches that the corridor connects to overall connectivity and (2) the corridor’s capability for facilitating movement across the network of patches. Habitat patches were classified according to their value for the conservation of multispecies connectivity by hybridizing circuit-based and spatial prioritization models for connectivity conservation. We developed current flow models for each species (n = 40) and combined them in four prioritization models corresponding to the three multispecies groups and an all-species group. We found that the corridors having the highest accumulated importance (CI ≥ 58) are located along the protected areas of Pico de Tancítaro and the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera de la Mariposa Monarca–RBMM, Spanish acronym), which have relatively similar spatial distributions corridors compared to areas with priority for conservation (relative rank test = 0.6). Within those areas, there are permeable sectors with high connectivity retention values that could optimize their ecological function as multispecies corridors. Our approach is applicable to different landscapes, and it allows for identifying priorities for connectivity conservation by integrating landscape elements outside habitat patches.