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Monday, January 29 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY: WILDLIFE HABITAT: Using Circuit Theory to Map Connectivity of the U.S. Great Lakes Coastline

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AUTHORS. Lindsay E. F. Hunt, Dr. Ralph Grundel, Dr. Noel Pavlovic - U.S. Geological Survey

ABSTRACT. Ecologists have sought to analyze connectivity for years in an effort to better understand the ecological effects of fragmentation on the landscape. Originally, small scale connectivity analyses were used to understand individual movement and local population distributions. As scientists began expanding the scope, scale, and size of studies, model complexity increased and was restricted by computational capacity, forcing development of new technologies to overcome these limitations. We used one such technique, Circuitscape, which applies circuit theory, to map connectivity across our study area identifying specific parcels of land vital to improving connectivity. Using the NLCD (National Land Cover Dataset), we created a layer indicating resistance to potential movement/dispersal, in order to evaluate connectivity along the Great Lakes coast. We applied circuit theory to local areas, such as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore managers, where we hope to inform land managers where the optimal investment of their limited time and resources is, in order to maintain or improve connectivity. Additionally we expanded this study's scope to the entire Great Lakes shoreline, using PAD-US to compare the connectivity of State and Federal protected areas, determining where connectivity is most tenuous, identifying critical regions for maintaining long term connectivity, including projecting changes in connectivity into the future. Lastly we identified three main habitat types on our landscape (wetlands, forests, and grasslands), using Circuitscape we modeled the current level of connectivity of each of these habitat types in our study area, comparing them regionally and across the whole coastline.

Monday January 29, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm CST