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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 905–917 | Cite as

Spatial distribution, connectivity, and the influence of scale: habitat availability for the endangered Mona Island rock iguana

  • Humberto L. Perotto-Baldivieso
  • Elvia Meléndez-Ackerman
  • Miguel A. García
  • Peter Leimgruber
  • Susan M. Cooper
  • Alma Martínez
  • Paulina Calle
  • Olga M. Ramos Gonzáles
  • Maya Quiñones
  • Catherine A. Christen
  • Gaspar Pons
Original Paper

Abstract

The Caribbean region is one of the five leading biodiversity hotspots in the world. Analysis of the spatial structure of critical habitats and how it affects endemic species in this region is essential baseline information for biodiversity monitoring and management. We quantified and evaluated the spatial structure and connectivity of depression forests on Mona Island and their potential impact on Mona Island rock iguana habitat, as a framework to assess spatial distribution, connectivity, and the issue of scale in small and widely dispersed habitats. Using IKONOS imagery, we mapped and delineated depression forests at four different scales (minimum mapping units: <100, 100, 500, and 1,000 m), and calculated landscape metrics describing their spatial structure, and connectivity, for each map resolution. Our approach resulted in a more detailed map than previously described maps, providing better information on habitat connectivity for iguanas. The comparison of the island landscape mapped at different scales provided evidence on how changing scales affect the output of spatial metrics and may have a significant impact when planning decisions and assigning conservation priorities. It also highlighted the importance of adequate ecological scales when addressing landscape management and conservation priorities. The analysis of landscapes at multiple scales provided a mechanism to evaluate the role of patch detection and its effect on the interpretation of connectivity and spatial structure of suitable areas for species with small and widely dispersed habitats. These methodologies can be applied other species, in different environments, with similar limitations related to connectivity and habitat availability.

Keywords

Connectivity Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri Habitat spatial distribution Landscape structure Mona Island Mona rock iguana Scale 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank G. Olivieri, H. López, and J. Sustache for their valuable help during the field work in Mona Island, M. Jiménez and S. Martinuzzi for the comments and suggestions for the image analysis, M. Figueroa and J. N. Romo for their help during the data analysis, and E. Hollister, X. Ben Wu, H. Hood, and the two anonymous reviewers for their review comments that helped improve this manuscript. This project was funded by NSF-CREST CATEC HRD-0206200, federal support from the Smithsonian Latino Center, the Wildlife Restoration Program (Project W14, US Fish and Wildlife Service), the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Environmental Science Program of the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Humberto L. Perotto-Baldivieso
    • 1
    • 7
  • Elvia Meléndez-Ackerman
    • 2
    • 3
  • Miguel A. García
    • 6
    • 3
  • Peter Leimgruber
    • 5
  • Susan M. Cooper
    • 1
  • Alma Martínez
    • 2
    • 3
  • Paulina Calle
    • 2
    • 3
  • Olga M. Ramos Gonzáles
    • 4
  • Maya Quiñones
    • 4
  • Catherine A. Christen
    • 5
  • Gaspar Pons
    • 6
    • 3
  1. 1.Texas AgriLife ResearchUvaldeUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Tropical Ecosystem Studies (ITES)University of Puerto RicoSan JuanUSA
  3. 3.CREST, Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation (CATEC)University of Puerto RicoSan JuanUSA
  4. 4.International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service (IITF)Jardín Botánico SurSan JuanUSA
  5. 5.National Zoological ParkSmithsonian InstitutionFront RoyalUSA
  6. 6.Department of Natural and Environmental ResourcesThe National Park ServiceSan JuanUSA
  7. 7.La PazBolivia

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