Landscape functional connectivity for butterflies under different scenarios of land-use, land-cover, and climate change in Australia
Diengdoh, VL and Ondei, S and Amin, RJ and Hunt, MA and Brook, BW, Landscape functional connectivity for butterflies under different scenarios of land-use, land-cover, and climate change in Australia, Biological Conservation, 277 Article 109825. ISSN 0006-3207 (2023) [Refereed Article]
Pollinating invertebrates are vital to terrestrial ecosystems but are impacted by anthropogenic habitat loss/fragmentation and climate change. Conserving and improving landscape connectivity is important to offset those threats, yet its assessment for invertebrates is lacking. In this study, we evaluated the functional connectivity between protected areas in Australia for 59 butterfly species (based on data availability), under present conditions and different future scenarios (for 2050 and 2090) of land use, land cover, and climate change. Using circuit-theory analysis, functional connectivity models are, on average, predicted to have a cumulative current (a proxy for species' movement) of 0.0191 and this is predicted to decrease to 0.0163 and 0.0162 under future scenarios 2050 and 2090 respectively. Cumulative current is predicted to decrease and increase for 30 and 20 species, respectively; while 9 species are predicted to both increase and decrease depending on the future scenario. These changes are generally predicted to occur along the edges of a species' current distribution. Our results are made available as spatial datasets to allow comparisons with taxa from other studies and can be used to identify priority areas for conservation in terms of establishing ecological corridors or stepping-stone habitat patches. Our study highlights the importance of considering pollinating invertebrates during the conservation and restoration of a landscape's functional connectivity, underscoring the need to expand and promote protected areas to facilitate functional connectivity under future scenarios of global change.