Prioritising sites for pollinators in a fragmented coastal nectar habitat network in Western Europe

George Paterson, Gill Smart, Paul McKenzie, Sally Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Context
Habitat loss and fragmentation contribute significantly to pollinator decline and biodiversity loss globally. Conserving high quality habitats whilst restoring and connecting remnant habitat is critical to halt such declines.
Objectives
We quantified the connectivity of pollinator habitats for a generic focal species (GFS) which represented three groups of pollinators in an existing coastal nectar habitat network. Subsequently, in partnership with a conservation agency, we modelled an improved landscape that identified priority habitat patches to increase connectivity for pollinators.
Methods
We selected 4260 pollinator habitats along an 80 km section of coastland in Scotland using Phase 1 habitat data. A GFS represented three vulnerable European pollinator groups while graph theory and spatial metrics were used to identify optimal sites that could enhance habitat connectivity.
Results
Higher dispersing species experienced greater habitat connectivity in the improved landscape and habitat availability increased substantially in response to small increases in habitat. The improved landscape revealed important habitat patches in the existing landscape that should be protected and developed.
Conclusions
Our findings highlight that optimal landscapes can be designed through the integration of habitat data with spatial metrics for a GFS. By adopting this novel approach, conservation strategies can be targeted in an efficient manner to conserve at-risk species and their associated habitats. Integrating these design principles with policy and practice could enhance biodiversity across Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2791-2805
Number of pages15
JournalLandscape Ecology
Volume34
Issue number12
Early online date30 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • GIS
  • landscape planning
  • potential connectivity
  • habitat networks
  • ecological networks
  • pollination services
  • Potential connectivity
  • Pollination services
  • Habitat networks
  • Ecological networks
  • Landscape planning

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