Szilárd Szabó, Tibor Novák, Zoltán Elek (2012): Distance models in ecological network management: A case study of patch connectivity in a grassland network. Journal for Nature Conservation 20(5): 293–300.
Landscape connectivity is a key issue of nature conservation and distance parameters are essential for the calculation of patch level metrics. For such calculations the so-called Euclidean and the least cost distance are the most widespread models. In the present work we tested both distance models for landscape connectivity, using connectivity metrics in the case of a grassland mosaic, and the ground beetle Pterostichus melas as a focal species. Our goal was to explore the dissimilarity between the two distance models and the consequent divergence from the calculated values of patch relevance in connectivity. We found that the two distance models calculated the distances similarly, but their estimations were more reliable over short distances (circa 500 m), than long distances (circa 3000 m). The variability in the importance of habitat patches (i.e. patch connectivity indices) was estimated by the difference between the two distance models (Euclidean vs. least cost) according to the patch size. The location of the habitat patches in the matrix seemed to be a more important factor than the habitat size in the estimation of connectivity. The uncertainty of three patch connectivity indices (Integral Index of Connectivity, Probability of Connectance and Flux) became high above a habitat size of 5 ha. Relevance of patches in maintaining connectivity varied even within small ranges depending on the estimator of distance, revealing the careful consideration of these methods in conservation planning.
Distance models; Matrix effect; NDVI; Patch connectivity; Pterostichus melas