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Article

Restoration and Conservation of Priority Areas of Caatinga’s Semi-Arid Forest Remnants Can Support Connectivity within an Agricultural Landscape

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Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería Forestal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago 7830436, Chile
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Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES), Santiago 7820244, Chile
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Centro Interdisciplinario de Cambio Global, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago 7820436, Chile
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Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas, Universidad de Chile, Santiago 8820808, Chile
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Departamento de Educação em Ciências Agrarias e da Terra, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Campus do Sertão (UFS), Nossa Senhora da Glória 49680-000, Brazil
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National Institute of Science and Technology in Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Studies in Ecology and Evolution (INCT-IN-TREE), Salvador 40110-906, Brazil
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School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
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Colegiado de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Vale do São Francisco, Petrolina 56300-990, Brazil
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Departamento de Tecnologia e Ciências Sociais, Universidade do Estado da Bahia—Campus III (UNEB), Juazeiro 48904-711, Brazil
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Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Diane L. Haase, Jeremiah R. Pinto and Owen T. Burney
Land 2021, 10(6), 550; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060550
Received: 5 April 2021 / Revised: 13 May 2021 / Accepted: 18 May 2021 / Published: 21 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Restoration: Strategies, Challenges, and Impacts)
Land-use and land-cover (LULC) changes are major drivers of biodiversity loss in semi-arid regions, such as the Caatinga biome located in the Northeast of Brazil. We investigated landscape dynamics and fragmentation in an area of the São Francisco Valley in the Brazilian Caatinga biome and measured the effect of these dynamics on ecological, functional and structural connectivity over a 33-year period (1985–2018). We calculated landscape connectivity indices based on graph theory to quantify the effect of further agricultural expansion on ecological connectivity at the landscape scale. We used a multicriteria decision analysis that integrates graph-based connectivity indices at the habitat patch scale, combined with an index of human disturbance to identify patches that, if conserved and restored, preserve the connectivity of the landscape most effectively. In the period studied, agriculture increased at a rate of 2104 ha/year, while native Caatinga vegetation decreased at a rate of 5203 ha/year. Both dense and open Caatinga became more fragmented, with the number of fragments increasing by 85.2% and 28.6%, respectively, whilst the average fragment size decreased by 84.8% and 6.1% for dense and open Caatinga, respectively. If agriculture patches were to expand by a 300 m buffer around each patch, the overall ecological connectivity could be reduced by 6–15%, depending on the species’ (small- to mid-size terrestrial vertebrates) mobility characteristics for which the connectivity indices were calculated. We provided explicit spatial connectivity and fragmentation information for the conservation and restoration of the Caatinga vegetation in the studied area. This information helps with conservation planning in this rapidly changing ecosystem. View Full-Text
Keywords: land-use and land-cover change; landscape connectivity; agriculture; conservation planning; landscape restoration; Caatinga biome land-use and land-cover change; landscape connectivity; agriculture; conservation planning; landscape restoration; Caatinga biome
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MDPI and ACS Style

Salazar, A.A.; Arellano, E.C.; Muñoz-Sáez, A.; Miranda, M.D.; Oliveira da Silva, F.; Zielonka, N.B.; Crowther, L.P.; Silva-Ferreira, V.; Oliveira-Reboucas, P.; Dicks, L.V. Restoration and Conservation of Priority Areas of Caatinga’s Semi-Arid Forest Remnants Can Support Connectivity within an Agricultural Landscape. Land 2021, 10, 550. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060550

AMA Style

Salazar AA, Arellano EC, Muñoz-Sáez A, Miranda MD, Oliveira da Silva F, Zielonka NB, Crowther LP, Silva-Ferreira V, Oliveira-Reboucas P, Dicks LV. Restoration and Conservation of Priority Areas of Caatinga’s Semi-Arid Forest Remnants Can Support Connectivity within an Agricultural Landscape. Land. 2021; 10(6):550. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060550

Chicago/Turabian Style

Salazar, Andrés A., Eduardo C. Arellano, Andrés Muñoz-Sáez, Marcelo D. Miranda, Fabiana Oliveira da Silva, Natalia B. Zielonka, Liam P. Crowther, Vinina Silva-Ferreira, Patricia Oliveira-Reboucas, and Lynn V. Dicks. 2021. "Restoration and Conservation of Priority Areas of Caatinga’s Semi-Arid Forest Remnants Can Support Connectivity within an Agricultural Landscape" Land 10, no. 6: 550. https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060550

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