Anthropogenic pressures drive global biodiversity loss. The loss of landscape connectivity, further exacerbated by climate change, is a key driver of species decline. Hence, it is crucial to identify key elements that ensure landscape connectivity across landscapes and scales.
Several challenges in this context include insufficient knowledge of 1) species’ ecophysiology across landscapes and ranges, 2) the mechanisms driving migration pulses, 3) how local-scale processes (animal movements) translate to large-scale and longer-term patterns (species’ distributions and range shifts), and consequently, 4) the spatial scale(s) at which connectivity needs to be maintained to mitigate climate change effects on species. These issues are best addressed through comparative studies across a range of landscapes and climates, using umbrella species requiring large areas.
Using lynx species in North America and Europe as models, this project will establish an integrative approach across scales to predict functional connectivity for wild felids. Ecological and environmental data across continents will be integrated using groundbreaking eco-physiological and landscape genetics tools, and dynamic simulation modelling (using the novel individual-based model RangeShifter). This project will provide valuable insights and conservation guidelines on how to maintain large-scale connectivity for umbrella species across fragmentation and climate scenarios.