Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Bird KIT, Uden DR, Allen CR (2023) Functional connectivity varies across scales in a fragmented landscape. PLoS ONE 18(8): e0289706. pone.0289706


Open access.


Species of different sizes interact with the landscape differently because ecological structure varies with scale, as do species movement capabilities and habitat requirements. As such, landscape connectivity is dependent upon the scale at which an animal interacts with its environment. Analyses of landscape connectivity must incorporate ecologically relevant scales to address scale-specific differences. Many evaluations of landscape connectivity utilize incrementally increasing buffer distances or other arbitrary spatial delineations as scales of analysis. Instead, we used a mammalian body mass discontinuity analysis to objectively identify scales in the Central Platte River Valley (CPRV) of Nebraska, U.S.A. We implemented a graph-theoretic network analysis to evaluate the connectivity of two wetland land cover types in the CPRV, wet meadow and emergent marsh, at multiple scales represented by groupings of species with similar body mass. Body mass is allometric with multiple traits of species, including dispersal distances. The landscape was highly connected at larger scales but relatively unconnected at smaller scales. We identified a threshold at which the landscape becomes highly connected between 500 m and 6,500 m dispersal distances. The presence of a connectivity threshold suggests that species with dispersal distances close to the threshold may be most vulnerable to habitat loss or reconfiguration and management should account for the connectivity threshold. Furthermore, we propose that a multiscale approach to management will be necessary to ensure landscape connectivity for diverse species.