Climate Change and connectivity: Are corridors the solution?
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This paper reviews the significance and use of conservation corridors at different geographic scales (local, regional and continental) as a conservation management tool to mitigate the effects of climate change on habitat and biodiversity. Species’ habitats are affected by habitat fragmentation, degradation, and now, climate change. The theory of island biogeography holds that the number of species within any given habitat patch exists in a dynamic equilibrium between extinction and colonization. Consequently, a general principle of biodiversity conservation has emerged stating that practitioners should try and connect habitat patches wherever possible. Conservation corridors are habitat strips connecting two main patches together because habitat fragmentation can disrupt natural population dynamics by reducing species dispersal and even causing local extinctions. Climate change will cause changes to mean annual temperature, precipitation patterns, the incidences of severe weather events, and the frequency and intensity of disruption regimes (ex: forest fires). The effects of climate change as well as habitat degradation and fragmentation will compromise species’ ability to adapt their habitat ranges to new climate. An analysis of case studies from the peer-reviewed literature shows that the implementation of corridors at broader scales would best mitigate the effects of climate change and maintain the integrity of ecosystem processes.