Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X). This special issue belongs to the section "Land, Biodiversity, and Human Wellbeing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2024) | Viewed by 11759

Special Issue Editors

1. Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
2. Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Interests: landscape ecology; landscape conservation planning; spatial analysis; sustainable development; biodiversity
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Loss of biodiversity is one of the most serious environmental issues facing the planet. Many researchers are turning to model-based approaches to better predict the ecological effects of habitat fragmentation, climate change, and anthropogenic impacts, aiming to identify conservation strategies that are more effective at preserving biodiversity. Models play a crucial role in biodiversity and landscape conservation planning, areas where various computer programs can be utilized to create models for the issues of biodiversity and connectivity facing these habitats. Once these models have been created, they can be used to evaluate alternative landscape management techniques, spatial conservation prioritization, and future scenario planning in terms of their impact on biodiversity preservation.

Increasingly, conservation strategies and policies for multi-use landscapes are being developed at the intersection of science and policy. There exists a gap between social research and the comprehension of the complexities of actor, stakeholder, and policy participation in landscape planning. In light of these knowledge gaps and the value of geodesign methods and technology for facilitating strategic planning, the use of spatially explicit design scenarios to strengthen the link between environmental dynamics and territorial systems is ripe for investigation. Research articles may discuss a variety of topics related to the integration of biodiversity and conservation planning, such as:

  • metrics/methods for quantifying biodiversity;
  • mapping biodiversity using remote sensing and GIS;
  • numerical models for biodiversity;
  • connectivity models and approaches;
  • spatial conservation prioritization;
  • landscape conservation planning and geodesign;
  • examining alternative future scenarios;
  • social network analysis;
  • participatory geographic information systems;
  • agent-based modeling of environmental policies;
  • evaluation of community-based conservation and payments for ecosystem services.

Dr. Eve Bohnett
Dr. Eben Broadbent
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • biodiversity
  • conservation planning
  • geodesign
  • modeling
  • spatial ecology
  • spatial conservation prioritization
  • landscape architecture
  • alternative futures

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Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 5877 KiB  
Article
Has the Establishment of National Key Ecological Function Zones Improved Eco-Environmental Quality?—Evidence from a Quasi-Natural Experiment in 130 Counties in Sichuan Province, China
by Yuanjie Deng, Lu Ming, Yifeng Hai, Hang Chen, Dingdi Jize, Ji Luo, Xiaohan Yan, Xiaolong Zhang, Shunbo Yao and Mengyang Hou
Land 2024, 13(5), 677; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13050677 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 590
Abstract
China’s National Key Ecological Function Zones (NKEFZs) currently represent the largest and most extensive ecological conservation policy in China, with one of the core objectives of this policy being to improve eco-environmental quality (EEQ). This study regards the establishment of NKEFZs as a [...] Read more.
China’s National Key Ecological Function Zones (NKEFZs) currently represent the largest and most extensive ecological conservation policy in China, with one of the core objectives of this policy being to improve eco-environmental quality (EEQ). This study regards the establishment of NKEFZs as a quasi-natural experiment. Based on panel data from 130 counties in Sichuan Province from 2001 to 2021, a multi-period difference-in-differences (DID) model was employed to evaluate the impact of NKEFZ establishment on EEQ. The findings indicate the following: ① The establishment of NKEFZs can significantly enhance the EEQ of the covered areas, albeit as a gradual long-term process. This conclusion not only meets the parallel-trends assumption but also holds true in a series of robustness tests such as placebo tests. ② Mechanism analysis reveals that NKEFZs can enhance EEQ through the effects of optimizing land spatial allocation and upgrading industrial structure. ③ Heterogeneity analysis demonstrates that the beneficial effect of NKEFZs on EEQ varies across different functional zone types, geographic spaces and ethnic regions. Our study not only contributes to the accumulation of empirical evidence and institutional refinement in the sustainable implementation of ecological policies in China but also offers valuable insights and references for other countries in formulating policies for eco-environmental protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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17 pages, 4131 KiB  
Article
Structure and Carbon Capture of a Temperate Mixed Forest across Altitudinal Gradients in Northern Mexico
by Luis U. Castruita-Esparza, Raúl Narváez-Flores, Mélida Gutiérrez, Aldo S. Mojica-Guerrero, Gerónimo Quiñones-Barraza and Javier Hernández-Salas
Land 2024, 13(4), 461; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13040461 - 5 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1006
Abstract
Maximizing the ability of forests to capture carbon (C) from the atmosphere is critical to mitigate global warming. This is a daunting task as the warming climate is adversely affecting forests with increasing forest fires, pests, and a shift to tree species that [...] Read more.
Maximizing the ability of forests to capture carbon (C) from the atmosphere is critical to mitigate global warming. This is a daunting task as the warming climate is adversely affecting forests with increasing forest fires, pests, and a shift to tree species that can tolerate the newer climate conditions. A large (about 1 million hectares) mixed pine–oak forest in Chihuahua, Mexico, was characterized via 151 plots to determine its floristic diversity and biomass with respect to species, age (tree diameter), and at four altitudinal gradients equally distributed between 1850 and 2850 masl. Higher richness and diversity were found at the altitudinal gradient of 2101–2350 m with 36 species and a Shannon’s index (H’) of 2.95, and the lowest at 2601–2850 m with 17 species and H’ of 2.37. The Sorensen Index showed a high similarity in species composition, with the highest values (71% to 79%) obtained for the 2351–2600 gradient. C storage of the mixed forest increased with altitude from 7.85 Mg C ha−1 in the 1850–2100 m gradient to 14.82 Mg C ha−1 in the 2601–2850 m gradient. C storage in oak decreased with altitude while C storage of pine increased. Viable strategies to maximize C storage under changing climate conditions are discussed, including social safeguards and sale of carbon credits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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17 pages, 8918 KiB  
Article
Tree Diversity and Its Ecological Importance Value in Silvopastoral Systems: A Study along Elevational Gradients in the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve, Ecuadorian Amazon
by Bolier Torres, Robinson J. Herrera-Feijoo, Alexandra Torres-Navarrete, Carlos Bravo and Antón García
Land 2024, 13(3), 281; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13030281 - 24 Feb 2024
Viewed by 723
Abstract
This study analyzes tree diversity and its ecological importance value in silvopastoral systems in the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve (SBR), Ecuador, along an altitudinal gradient of 400–2000 masl. Twenty-six plots distributed into low (400–700 masl), medium (701–1600 masl) and high (1601–2000 masl) zones were [...] Read more.
This study analyzes tree diversity and its ecological importance value in silvopastoral systems in the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve (SBR), Ecuador, along an altitudinal gradient of 400–2000 masl. Twenty-six plots distributed into low (400–700 masl), medium (701–1600 masl) and high (1601–2000 masl) zones were used. The Shannon index and the importance value index (IVI), based on abundance, dominance and relative frequency, were estimated. The results highlight that in pastures with dispersed trees, the richness of trees decreases with increasing altitude in the elevational gradient; they also show a higher tree density at lower altitudes in contrast to the Andean–Amazonian primary forests. The lower and middle zones showed higher diversity, linked to regeneration and the presence of nearby forests. Species of high commercial value, such as Cedrela odorata and Jacaranda copaia, were common, reflecting knowledge of the local timber market. In the lower and middle zones, the 10 most important species accounted for more than 70% of the trees, with up to 96% in the upper zone. A total of 51 taxa (including 42 species and nine taxa at the rank of genus) were identified, which were mostly native; 64.7% are classified by the IUCN as least-concern (LC) species, 31.4% as not evaluated (NE) species and 3.9% as vulnerable (VU) species, specifically highlighting Cedrela odorata and Cedrela montana. The study concludes with policy recommendations related to the importance of trees in silvopastoral systems for the conservation of species and the livelihoods of local communities, highlighting the need for responsible management of Amazonian pasturelands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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15 pages, 5451 KiB  
Article
Estimating Changing Marshland Habitat and Conservation Potential for Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) in New Jersey under Climate Change
by Jacqueline R. Ganter and Zachary Christman
Land 2023, 12(12), 2170; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12122170 - 15 Dec 2023
Viewed by 976
Abstract
The diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), a brackish water turtle species native to the eastern United States, is under “special concern” in the state of New Jersey, due to decreasing habitat from development and changing climatic conditions. Diamondback terrapins reside in saline [...] Read more.
The diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), a brackish water turtle species native to the eastern United States, is under “special concern” in the state of New Jersey, due to decreasing habitat from development and changing climatic conditions. Diamondback terrapins reside in saline marshes and coastal wetlands and nest in sandy substrate, primarily beaches and dunes, in June and July. New Jersey is vulnerable to sea level rise, leaving diamondback terrapin habitats and nesting areas at risk of inundation under future climate scenarios, and, as the most densely populated state, subject to continual development pressures on potentially conservable land. Changing sea levels and climatic conditions will cause accretion and migration of marshes into open grassy land, yielding new potential terrapin habitats, though changing temperatures could affect the availability of male-producing nesting sites and impact potential nesting patterns. This study spatially modeled lost, gained, and changed habitat and nesting areas under sea level rise scenarios for 2050 and 2100 in New Jersey and quantified these by municipality to offer insights into potential conservable land that may mitigate these changes for the vulnerable species. The results indicate an overall decrease in potential habitat coupled with a decrease in both overall and male-producing nesting ranges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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18 pages, 7152 KiB  
Article
Prioritizating Birds’ Habitats for Conservation to Mitigate Urbanization Impacts Using Field Survey-Based Integrated Models in the Yangtze River Estuary
by Meihua Gao, Shubo Fang, Matthew J. Deitch, Yang Hu, Dongsheng Zhang, Zhongrong Wan, Peimin He, Yanlin Pan and Tesfay G. Gebremicael
Land 2023, 12(12), 2115; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12122115 - 28 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 960
Abstract
The aim of this study was to provide practical suggestions for land use regulation to mitigate the impacts of intense urbanization using integrated modeling. To achieve effective urbanization management, it is essential to quantify the habitats of critical species and predict their dynamics [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to provide practical suggestions for land use regulation to mitigate the impacts of intense urbanization using integrated modeling. To achieve effective urbanization management, it is essential to quantify the habitats of critical species and predict their dynamics in response to urbanization impacts in the future. In this study, we developed an integrated bird-habitat modeling that combines maximum entropy and patch-generating land use simulation based on a field survey of bird populations to characterize the habitat dynamics of birds in the Yangtze River Estuary (YRE) under urbanization impacts. Our findings revealed the following: (1) The YRE experienced fundamental fragmentation from 2000. (2) The year 2010 was a turning point, and from 2000 to 2037, habitats for all bird species tended to overlap and fragment, and decreased from 66% to 45%, resulting in a loss of about 4340 km2. (3) The maintenance of a buffer area of 300 m around built-up areas was crucial for preserving bird habitats. Based on the identified variables, the hotspots of birds’ habitats were prioritized and the regulation measures to mitigate urbanization impacts are proposed in YRE. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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18 pages, 20076 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of the Potential for Territorial Ecological Restoration: A Case Study of Zhaoping County, China
by Min Liu, Xinwei Liu, Heju Huai and Xiumei Tang
Land 2023, 12(11), 1966; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12111966 - 25 Oct 2023
Viewed by 912
Abstract
Territorial ecological restoration (TER) is a critical step for promoting the development of an ecological civilization, as well as a significant strategic task relating to national ecological security and the well-being of a population. However, calculating the ecological restoration potential (ERP) is a [...] Read more.
Territorial ecological restoration (TER) is a critical step for promoting the development of an ecological civilization, as well as a significant strategic task relating to national ecological security and the well-being of a population. However, calculating the ecological restoration potential (ERP) is a key challenge in TER. Using Zhaoping County as an example, this study calculated the ecological restoration natural potential (ERNP), including the vegetation coverage potential, water conservation potential, windbreak and sand fixation potential, and biodiversity potential, and proposed an ERP calculation method based on the correction of ERNP with an ecological security pattern (ESP) and social support (SS). The findings revealed several key points. First, using the similarity habitat method to calculate ERNP highlighted significant disparities in the vegetation coverage, water conservation, windbreak and sand fixation, and biodiversity across Zhaoping County. These variations were contrary to regional ecological service functions. Second, overall, the ESP levels in Zhaoping County were high, accounting for about 60.42% of its total area being classified as high or relatively high level, with the towns exhibiting strong SS abilities primarily located in the northern region. Third, the ERP results which are between 0 and 1 indicated that areas with higher potential were mainly found in the west and northeast of Zhaoping, while lower potential areas were concentrated in the northwest and south; of them, the ERP index value in most regions is between 0.2 and 0.3, accounting for about 43.97% of the area. Finally, suggestions for the TER project layout and measures to enhance the ERP were proposed based on these ERP calculations. This study offers new insights into ERP strategies while providing guidance for identifying critical areas requiring restoration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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17 pages, 3755 KiB  
Article
Enhancing the Long-Term Ecological Management and Monitoring of Landscapes: The L-TEAM Framework
by Mystyn Mills, Loralee Larios and Janet Franklin
Land 2023, 12(10), 1942; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12101942 - 19 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1107
Abstract
Long-term monitoring and adaptive ecological management are essential to the conservation of biodiversity. Yet, achieving successful long-term ecological monitoring and management, especially at the landscape level, has proven challenging. In this paper, we address the hurdles faced in sustaining long-term monitoring and management [...] Read more.
Long-term monitoring and adaptive ecological management are essential to the conservation of biodiversity. Yet, achieving successful long-term ecological monitoring and management, especially at the landscape level, has proven challenging. In this paper, we address the hurdles faced in sustaining long-term monitoring and management for landscape-scale efforts by offering three promising conceptual and methodological developments that support such initiatives. Then, we introduce L-TEAM, a long-term ecological adaptive monitoring and management framework that integrates those three components using four tools: a conceptual model, clearly defined and measurable objectives, scientifically robust experimentation, and decision support tools. Finally, using a case study, we demonstrate L-TEAM’s effectiveness in supporting the long-term monitoring and management of a landscape conservation project with diverse habitat types and multiple management objectives. This structured decision framework not only facilitates informed decision making in management practices, but also ensures the implementation of scientifically grounded long-term monitoring. Additionally, L-TEAM holds the potential to enhance our understanding of ecosystem functioning and biodiversity responses to disturbances and management actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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22 pages, 1694 KiB  
Article
Planning for Socio-Ecological Conservation in South African Nature Reserves: Model of Influences on the Attitudes of Proximate Communities
by Dorothy Ruth Queiros
Land 2023, 12(9), 1815; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12091815 - 21 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1067
Abstract
Conservation planning models need to be more inclusive, considering both social and ecological dimensions in order to achieve sustainable conservation. To do this, stakeholders need to understand the communities that border protected areas, which involves insight into attitudes. This research therefore aimed to [...] Read more.
Conservation planning models need to be more inclusive, considering both social and ecological dimensions in order to achieve sustainable conservation. To do this, stakeholders need to understand the communities that border protected areas, which involves insight into attitudes. This research therefore aimed to determine what influences the attitudes of local communities towards protected areas, culminating in a model. The research was conducted at three case study sites across South Africa, each involving a nature reserve and a proximate local community. Multiple qualitative methods were used to gather data from the local community and protected area staff around different aspects that influence attitudes. Following cross-case analysis, meta-themes were identified that formed the building blocks of the model and informed the accompanying practical recommendations regarding implementation thereof. The model outlines the centrality of relationships between local communities and park stakeholders, which are impacted by benefits, costs, facilitators and detractors. It also outlines how positive attitudes can be fostered through practical actions. As communities receive and perceive the benefits of living alongside wildlife, there is potential for positivity to improve while simultaneously achieving biodiversity conservation that is supported by the community. In line with adaptive management, users can test and adapt the model, continually aiming for conservation planning that is more community-based. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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15 pages, 2967 KiB  
Article
Compact vs. Linear: Effects of Forest Structure, Patch Shape and Landscape Configuration on Black Alder Macromoth Communities
by Sara La Cava, Margherita Lombardo, Vincenzo Bernardini, Federica Fumo, Giuseppe Rijllo, Rosario Turco, Laura Bevacqua, Giada Zucco and Stefano Scalercio
Land 2023, 12(9), 1670; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12091670 - 26 Aug 2023
Viewed by 772
Abstract
Landscape configuration and forest structure assume an increasing importance as determinants of animal communities. This paper focused on nocturnal Lepidoptera inhabiting alder patches in the Sila National Park, Italy. According to their shapes, patches were divided into linear and compact ones to disentangle [...] Read more.
Landscape configuration and forest structure assume an increasing importance as determinants of animal communities. This paper focused on nocturnal Lepidoptera inhabiting alder patches in the Sila National Park, Italy. According to their shapes, patches were divided into linear and compact ones to disentangle the roles of forest structure and landscape configuration in determining the composition of nocturnal Lepidopteran communities at different observation scales. We used the Mann–Whitney test for medians and Shannon diversity, equitability, Fisher’s alpha, and nestedness to test differences among moth communities. We found that compact patches inhabited richer and more abundant communities. The abundance-based Correspondence Analysis showed moth communities clustered according to woodlot shape, except a compact woodlot with a linear-like moth community because it was entirely surrounded by grasslands. Percentage of forested area and abundance and composition of communities were positively correlated at 50 and 200 m buffers, while correlations were absent at smaller and larger buffers. Our results demonstrated that a width of 50 m may not be sufficient to give proper functionality to the wooded area, at least for moths. As a consequence, planning of forest restorations should consider the importance of increasing the structural habitat continuity at larger scales. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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15 pages, 1466 KiB  
Article
Shorebird Monitoring Using Spatially Explicit Occupancy and Abundance
by Eve Bohnett, Jessica Schulz, Robert Dobbs, Thomas Hoctor, Dave Hulse, Bilal Ahmad, Wajid Rashid and Hardin Waddle
Land 2023, 12(4), 863; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12040863 - 11 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1862
Abstract
Loss of habitat and human disturbance are major factors in the worldwide decline of shorebird populations, including that of the threatened migratory piping plover (Charadrius melodus). From 2013 to 2018, we conducted land-based surveys of the shorebird community every other week [...] Read more.
Loss of habitat and human disturbance are major factors in the worldwide decline of shorebird populations, including that of the threatened migratory piping plover (Charadrius melodus). From 2013 to 2018, we conducted land-based surveys of the shorebird community every other week during the peak piping plover season (September to March). We assessed the ability of a thin plate spline occupancy model to identify hotspot locations on Whiskey Island, Louisiana, for the piping plover and four additional shorebird species (Wilson’s plover (Charadrius wilsonia), snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus), American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), and red knot (Calidris canutus)). By fitting single-species occupancy models with geographic thin plate spline parameters, hotspot priority regions for conserving piping plovers and the multispecies shorebird assemblage were identified on the island. The occupancy environmental covariate, distance to the coastline, was weakly fitting, where the spatially explicit models were heavily dependent on the spatial spline parameter for distribution estimation. Additionally, the detectability parameters for Julian date and tide stage affected model estimations, resulting in seemingly inflated estimates compared to assuming perfect detection. The models predicted species distributions, biodiversity, high-use habitats for conservation, and multispecies conservation areas using a thin-plate spline for spatially explicit estimation without significant landscape variables, demonstrating the applicability of this modeling approach for defining areas on a landscape that are more heavily used by a species or multiple species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Planning)
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