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Providing insights on habitat connectivity for male brown bears: A combination of habitat suitability and landscape graph-based models


TitleProviding insights on habitat connectivity for male brown bears: A combination of habitat suitability and landscape graph-based models
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsAlmpanidou V, Mazaris AD, Mertzanis Y, Avraam I, Antoniou I, Pantis JD, Sgardelis SP
JournalEcological Modelling
Volume286
Pagination37-44
Keywordsbear, connectivity, Conservation, conservation planning, Ecological modeling, Ecosystems, Electric network analysis, Greece, habitat conservation, Habitat Quality, Habitat selection, Habitat suitability model, Habitat suitability models, landscape structure, male, Movement, Network analysis, persistence, radiotelemetry, Ursus arctos, wildlife management
Abstract

The combined study of movement patterns and habitat selection, behaviors that are affected by landscape structure, is of critical importance for effective conservation of wildlife. In the same context, maintaining connectivity is a key component for facilitating movement and ensuring species persistence. The brown bear is a wide-ranging predator that moves across large areas, crossing various habitats of different quality. Here, we provide a methodological framework that allowed us to explore the relative importance of habitat quality upon movement patterns and connectivity. First, we developed habitat-suitability models by using telemetry data of eight male brown bears (12,893 radio-locations) collected in Greece. Next, we combined habitat-suitability maps with real movement data to develop graph models that represent movement networks as inter-connected patches of different quality. Network analyses revealed that movement networks demonstrate some well-studied properties regarding their structure and robustness (i.e. scale-free and small-world), providing insights on the contribution of patches of different quality to connectivity. Less suitable patches were found to play a critical role for facilitating brown bear's movement and landscape connectivity. Our findings raise the importance of considering the entire habitat of brown bear in conservation planning rather than isolated patches of high quality, as it might have been revealed by simple habitat-suitability models. Our results highlight the need of assessing the importance of the intervening matrix for facilitating connectivity and movement specifically in the case of large and highly mobile species that do not perceive landscape as strictly dichotomous. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.