Alaska and Canada’s hundreds of millions of acres of public protected lands are large and currently well-connected, but will face pressures. Providing for landscape connectivity is a core climate adaptation strategy. But shifting treelines, species compositions, and climates make planning for future corridors difficult.Dr. Dawn Magness from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge uses a method that relies on enduring feature of the landscape that climate change will not change.The project is a collaboration between the NWB LCC and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The geodiversity approach uses topography to define landscape features. Topography can be a proxy for ecological function. For example, topography influences the solar radiation available for plants and animals, the soil characteristics through the likelihood for erosion and deposition, and the characteristics of hydrologic features. Therefore, similar geodiversity types should have the potential for similar ecological function even as the climate changes. We classified the landscape into three topographic feature categories: canyons, ridges, and slopes. Each topographic feature was then clustered into distinct geodiversity types. Slopes were clustered into groups using elevation, slope angle, and yearly solar radiation. Solar radiation varies based on latitude, aspect, and topographic shading. Ridges and canyons were clustered based on elevation and slope angle. Solar radiation was not used for ridges or canyons because each side would mirror the other increasing the complexity of the landscape characterization (Brost 2010). For each geodiversity type (e.g. gentle, low-elevation, warm slopes), large contiguous areas of that type were identified within the conservation estate (defined as NPS and USFWS lands). The most efficient, but permeable paths for moving between the contiguous areas of each geodiversity type were identified by modelling the path of least resistance. The final landscape linkage is a union of this least cost pathway for all geodiversity types found within the conservation estate.
Purpose: Model landscape connectivity through the most efficient, but permeable paths for moving between the contiguous areas of each geodiversity type were identified by modelling the path of least resistance.
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