Connectivity in human-dominated landscapes: current status, new approaches, and future challenges

Robert Pazur, WSL, Swiss Federal Research Institute,

Katarzyna Ostapowicz, Jagiellonian University, Institute of Geography and Spatial Management,

Janine Bolliger, WSL, Swiss Federal Research Institute,


This symposium will explore the state-of-the-art of approaches to assess the relationship between structural and functional connectivity of human-dominated landscapes. We focus on contributions that a) review our understanding of past and future landscape structure on the functional connectivity; b) integrate different disciplines (e.g., landscape genetics, wildlife ecology, remote sensing, or analytical modelling) to successfully pursue connectivity analyses; c) demonstrate the utility of connectivity assessment (e.g. 3D landscape metrics) for conservation management to mitigate challenges associated with the implementation of e.g., Green and Blue Infrastructure concepts.


Global environmental change threatens species through habitat loss and fragmentation, leading
to reduced functional connectivity. The loss of connectivity diminishes population viability
and the organism’s potential to shift their ranges or adapt to new environmental conditions. Protected areas offer limited solutions to such risks, since managing for connectivity requires interventions which consider a broader landscape context, either by creating wildlife corridors and stepping stones, or by applying biodiversity-friendly management (e.g., EU Biodiversity strategy 2020). In this context, e.g., the Green and Blue Infrastructure (GBI) concept is appealing as it attempts to reconcile the needs of nature and humans. A central aim of GBI is to form a functional network of (semi-) natural habitats to maintain biodiversity and optimize ecosystem functions and services. As the implementation of such concepts likely causes conflicts, appropriate workflows with effective tools and methods are required to allow for efficient evaluations of habitat loss and landscape connectivity.

Objectives of this symposium include:

  1. to provide an overview of current state-of-the-art tools and methods to assess habitat and functional connectivity in dynamic, heterogeneous landscapes;
  2. to identify the potential of current remote sensing data and connectivity modelling methods for assessment of different habitats and landscape structure;
  3. to explore challenges and future needs in implementing functional connectivity concepts in human-dominated landscapes and to assess options to mitigate or reconcile likely conflicts.

What can participants expect to learn?

We will:

  1. review and synthesize our understanding of past and future landscape structure on functional connectivity;
  2. integrate different disciplines (e.g., landscape genetics, population biology, remote sensing, spatial analysis and analytical modelling) to successfully pursue joint connectivity analyses;
  3. demonstrate the utility of connectivity assessments (e.g. with use of 3D landscape metrics) for conservation management and mitigate related challenges and conflicts to mitigate and reconcile challenges and conflicts associated with the implementation of e.g., Green and Blue Infrastructure (GBI) concepts.


The symposium provides a unique opportunity for discussion and cooperation of scientists from different regions and research fields (landscape genetics, remote sensing, quantitative landscape analysis). The interaction of scientists will encourage further cooperation with practical outcomes in the context of GBI.

Symposium outcomes will be highlighted as a short communication with a research agenda in Landscape Ecology and will be discussed in scientific blogs e.g. the Science for the Carpathians (S4C). 


Oral presentations
Rapid diversity loss of competing animal species in well-connected landscapes
Peter Schippers (1), Lia Hemerik (2), Johannes M...
Predicting Species Occurrence with Habitat Network Models: Why Topological Placement Matters
Damian Ortiz-Rodríguez (1,2), Maarten J. van...
Well-connected living spaces for both animals and humans: unravelling complex interactions in coupled habitat and settlement networks
Maarten J. van Strien (1), Amin Khiali-Miab (1),...
Characterising landscape connectivity using a dispersal guild approach
Alex Mark Lechner (1), Daniel Sprod (2), Oberon...
The trait-based response of woodland beetle communities to landscape heterogeneity and change along an urban gradient
Christopher W. Foster & Graham J. Holloway...
Combining landscape genetics, radio-tracking and long-term monitoring to derive management implications for Natterjack toads(Epidalea calamita) in agricultural landscapes
Janine Bolliger WSL Swiss Federal Research...
Composition and structure of linear and areal habitats in Estonia and their potential for expansion of species under scenarios of climate change.
D. Pungar, R.G.H.Bunce, M. Villoslada, K. Sepp, J...
What hampers European bison’s movements? A case study from the Carpathians
Elżbieta Ziółkowska (1), Kajetan Perzanowski (2,3...
Forest habitat functional connectivity in a natural park of central Sierra Morena (south of Spain)
J. Montalvo (1,2), R. Martínez (1,2), D. Íñigo (2...
Modelling connectivity of woody vegetation and its structure at the national scale for Switzerland
Price, B. and Ginzler, C. Remote Sensing Group,...
Comparing habitat connectivity of 2D versus 3D-landscape representations for brown bear (Ursus arctos) and European bison (Bison bonasus L.) in the Northern Carpathians
Ostapowicz K. (1), Pazur R. (2,3), Bolliger J. (2...
Multiscale landscape drivers of contemporary pollen flow in the insect-pollinated herb, Pulsatilla vulgaris
Michelle F. DiLeo (1,2), Rolf Holderegger (3),...
Using Circuitscape to analyse landscape connectivity and guide restoration activities in SE Australia.
Peter G. Spooner and Simon McDonald Institute for...
Landscape connectivity models: comparing landscape-centric versus movement-informed approaches
Julien Fattebert (1,2), Severin Hauenstein (3),...
A low-dispersal vertebrate in a fragmented landscape; using an individual-based sampling scheme to highlight gene flow in the common adder Vipera berus
Donatien FRANCOIS1, Alexandre BOISSINOT2, Sylvain...
Patch, matrix or corridor? Estimating the role of urban gardens for green infrastructure in Braunschweig, Germany.
Michael W. Strohbach 1, Andreas Dahlkamp 1, Anne-...
Determining priorities for restoring connectivity in a Mediterranean landscape fragmented by roads
Beatriz Terrones (1), Andreu Bonet (1) &...
Poster presentations
Landscape resistance predicts the distribution of a flight-related genetic polymorphism in a butterfly metapopulation
Michelle F. DiLeo, Arild Husby, and Marjo...