Network thinking in riverscape conservation - A graph-based approach

T. Erős, D. Schmera, Robert S. Schick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

85 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Graph theoretic approaches have received increased interest recently in landscape planning and conservation in the terrestrial realm, because these approaches facilitate the effective modelling of connectivity among habitats. We examined whether basic principles of graph theory can be extended to other ecosystems. Specifically, we demonstrate how a network-based context can be used for enhancing the more effective conservation of riverine systems. We first show how to use graph theoretic techniques to model riverscapes at the segment level. Then we use a real stream network (Zagyva river basin, Hungary) to examine the topological importance of segments in maintaining riverscape connectivity, using betweenness centrality, a commonly used network measure. Using the undirected graph model of this riverscape, we then prioritize segments for conservation purpose. We examine the value of each of the 93 segments present in the Zagyva river basin by considering the conservation value of local fish assemblages, connectivity and the size of the habitat patches. For this purpose we use the 'integral index of connectivity', a recently advocated habitat availability index. Based on the results the selection of the most valuable habitat segments can be optimized depending on conservation resources. Because of their inherent advantage in the consideration of connectivity relationships, we suggest that network analyses offer a simple, yet effective tool for searching for key segments (or junctions) in riverscapes for conservation and environmental management. Further, although the joint consideration of aquatic and terrestrial networks is challenging, the extension of network analyses to freshwater systems may facilitate the more effective selection of priority areas for conservation in continental areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume144
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

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connectivity
habitats
habitat
river basin
environmental management
natural resources conservation
habitat availability
Hungary
landscape planning
conservation management
conservation areas
planning
ecosystems
fish
ecosystem
modeling
methodology
index

Keywords

  • Connectivity
  • Fish
  • Graph theory
  • Network topology
  • Riverscape graph
  • Stream network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

Network thinking in riverscape conservation - A graph-based approach. / Erős, T.; Schmera, D.; Schick, Robert S.

In: Biological Conservation, Vol. 144, No. 1, 01.2011, p. 184-192.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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