Journal Papers Contribution of habitat patches to network connectivity: redundancy and uniqueness of topological indices


In order to increase the efficiency of monitoring and conservation efforts, it is of key importance to develop sound quantitative methods that are able to indicate which key areas and landscape elements play prominent and crucial role in the functioning of habitat mosaics. In particular, network models are being widely used to evaluate the contribution of landscape elements to uphold connectivity and related ecological fluxes. However, monitoring programs and conservation practitioners are overwhelmed by a myriad of network indices without being fully aware of their differences for characterizing the importance of individual habitat patches in fragmented landscapes. We analysed a set of thirteen commonly used graph indices and the forest habitat network of goshawks living in NE Spain in order to (a) evaluate how the patch rank orders derived from these indices differ from each other and (b) identify which indices tend to quantify the same network characteristics and which others are quite unique in addressing topological characteristics that are not considered by the rest. We found that most of the variability in patch rankings can be captured by only three network indices. The largest group of redundant indices corresponded to those that intend to measure the amount of flux received by a given habitat patch. The connector fraction of the integral index of connectivity (IIC) and probability of connectivity (PC) indices and betweenness centrality (BC) stood out as quite unique by focusing on the way habitat patches act as connecting elements between other habitat areas. We discuss which indices can be most beneficial by clearly indicating and differentiating the value of the top patches compared to the others, so that conservation priorities can be established with lower uncertainties. We believe that our results can provide valuable guidelines by facilitating the selection of a few non-redundant and complementary indicators that quantify the important and distinctive roles of habitat patches in maintaining the connectivity of habitat networks.

Paper Details


G. Baranyi,  S. Saura,  J. Podani,  F. Jordan


Ecological Indicators, 11, , 1301-1310