Conservation in space
Species distributions are highly spatially structured owing to three primary reasons. First, the spatial structure in environmental factors is passed to species distributions. Second, species respond to their environments in a hierarchical manner – at the spatial scales rising from species ecology. Third, ecological processes themselves are affected by space as the interactions between organisms are, to a high degree, limited by distance. Explicit consideration of space as an important underlying force affecting ecological processes and patterns does not only provide new theoretical and empirical knowledge but offers tools for conservation planning that targets for the long-term persistence of biodiversity. In this thesis, I have examined two current conservation issues from a spatial perspective and at the landscape level. First, I studied the role of woodland key habitats as an additional part of the traditional protected area network. My results showed that dispersal ability of species is linked with the potential conservation merits of woodland key habitats. The protected habitat area served as a misleading measure for the amount of protected habitat actually available to species at the landscape level. Second, I studied the habitat associations of the Siberian Jay (Perisoreus infaustus) in boreal forest landscapes by using spatially explicit species distribution modeling (SDM) methods with a multi-scale approach. My results showed that the species distribution is affected by the landscape context, and is most probably shaped by the intrinsic aggregation rising from species behavior. The comparisons of various spatial methods indicated that their conceptual underpinnings are passed on to the results they are producing, which emphasizes the role of understanding theoretical assumptions and the intricacies of spatial effects when interpreting spatial results. My results add to the accumulated scientific evidence for the notable role of space affecting species living in fragmented landscapes, and emphasize the importance of spatial considerations in conservation planning. ...
- Artikkeli I: Laita, A., Mönkkönen, M. & Kotiaho, J.S. 2010. Woodland key habitats evaluated as part of a functional reserve network. Biological Conservation 143: 1212-1227. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.02.029
- Artikkeli II: Laita, A., Kotiaho, J. S., & Mönkkönen, M. (2011). Graph-theoretic connectivity measures: what do they tell us about connectivity?. Landscape Ecology, 26 (7), 951-967. DOI: 10.1007/s10980-011-9620-4
- Artikkeli III: Laita, A. & Mönkkönen, M. 2011. Space, scales and imperfect detection: modeling the habitat association of the Siberian Jay (Perisoreus infaustus) in boreal forest landscapes. Submitted manuscript.
- Artikkeli IV: Laita, A. & Mönkkönen, M. 2011. Accounting for space in species distribution modeling – alternative routes leading to a same destination? Manuscript.
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