The use of biodiversity surrogates has been discussed in the context of designing habitat linkages to support the migration of species affected by climate change. Topography has been proposed as a useful surrogate in the coarse-filter approach, as the hydrological process caused by topography such as erosion and accumulation is the basis of ecological processes. However, some studies that have designed topographic linkages as habitat linkages, so far have focused much on the shape of the topography (morphometric topographic classification) with little emphasis on the hydrological processes (generic topographic classification) to find such topographic linkages. We aimed to understand whether generic classification was valid for designing these linkages. First, we evaluated whether topographic classification is more appropriate for describing actual (coniferous and deciduous) and potential (mammals and amphibians) habitat distributions. Second, we analyzed the difference in the linkages between the morphometric and generic topographic classifications. The results showed that the generic classification represented the actual distribution of the trees, but neither the morphometric nor the generic classification could represent the potential animal distributions adequately. Our study demonstrated that the topographic classes, according to the generic classification, were arranged successively according to the flow of water, nutrients, and sediment; therefore, it would be advantageous to secure linkages with a width of 1 km or more. In addition, the edge effect would be smaller than with the morphometric classification. Accordingly, we suggest that topographic characteristics, based on the hydrological process, are required to design topographic linkages for climate change.
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