Spatial complexity and fit between ecology and management : Making sense of patterns in fragmented landscapes

University dissertation from Stockholm : Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University

Abstract: Avoiding the negative effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity is especially challenging when also the management institutions are spatially and administratively distributed. This doctoral thesis introduces five case studies that investigate ecological, social and social-ecological relations in fragmented landscapes. I present new approaches in which research and governance can detect and manage mismatches between landscape ecology and planning. The case studies include urban and forested landscapes where an intense land-use is limiting the connectivity, i.e., the potential for many species to disperse between the remaining patches of habitat. Graph-theoretic (network) models applied to map connectivity patterns and to estimate the outcome for dispersing species; at the patch level and for the whole study system. In particular, the network models are applied to evaluate the spatial complexity and the potential mismatches between ecological connectivity and geographically distributed management institutions like protected areas and municipalities. Interviews with municipal ecologists complement the spatial analysis; revealing some problems and ways forward regarding the communication and integration of ecological knowledge within local spatial-planning agencies. The results also show that network models are useful to identify and communicate critical ecological and social-ecological patterns that call for management attention. I suggest some developments of network models as to include interactions between species and across governance levels. Finally, I conclude that more effort is needed for network models to materialize into ecological learning and transformation in management processes.

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