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Tuesday, April 10 • 11:00am - 11:15am
CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION PLANNING: Impacts of Projected Landscape Transformation on Conservation Corridors in the Southeastern U.S

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AUTHORS: Peng Gao*, University of South Carolina; John Kupfer, University of South Carolina; Derek Van Berkel, U.S. EPA; Adam Terando, U.S. Geological Survey

ABSTRACT: Given expected changes in economic and population growth, urbanization will continue to transform landscapes in the Southeastern U.S. over the remainder of the 21st century. Urban sprawl increases connectivity among urban habitats while simultaneously fragmenting non-urban habitats such as forests and grasslands, which poses a range of challenges for conservation and stewardship actions targeted toward species and ecosystems in the region. In this study, we examined the projected impact of urbanization on conservation corridors for two Southeastern species of conservation interest. Urbanization under scenarios based on different assumptions of urban growth strategies, land consumption, and conservation plans were simulated using the FUTure Urban-Regional Environment Simulation (FUTURES) model. Linkage Mapper was then used to detect conservation corridors given current land use patterns as well as various projected land use and land cover conditions. Constrictions (“bottlenecks” or “choke points”) in these corridors and important barriers to facilitate restoration planning were identified using Pinchpoint Mapper and Barrier Mapper, respectively. We found that projected patterns of urbanization increase the cost of movement between core habitats due to losses of key corridors and the degradation of corridor quality. In some areas, individuals are forced to take alternative shortest routes to disperse between core habitats. We also found that many ‘conservation opportunities’ (i.e., locations where small improvements in ecosystem quality may result in substantial increases in landscape connectivity) are lost in the developed areas. Our study provides insights relevant to strategic plans for the long-range conservation under the pressure of urbanization in the Southeast U.S.

Tuesday April 10, 2018 11:00am - 11:15am CDT
LaSalle 5 (7th Floor)