Incorporating social values and wildlife habitats for biodiversity conservation modeling in landscapes of the Great Plains

Abstract

Context

Socioecological information should be properly employed in the process of spatial analysis, planning, and management in order to respond to complex and multidirectional biodiversity issues.

Objectives

We conducted this study to map socioecological hotspots, where landscapes of social significance and wildlife habitats overlap, show to what extent and how the spatial distribution of social values (SVs) of people toward their landscapes interact with wildlife habitats in socioecological hotspots, simulate the potential for habitat degradation as a result of human activities linked to SVs, identify strategic areas for landscape restoration in socioecological hotspots, where both environmental conditions and SVs support the persistence and colonization of wildlife, and detect specific areas, where SVs of people may be contradictive leading to land-use disputes.

Methods

We developed a model to show the potential for habitat degradation based on the spatial distribution of SVs associated with landscapes. We restricted our study to the Upper Missouri River Basin (UMRB) and focused on habitats of five keystone mammal species to assess the validity of our model.

Results

Habitat loss, habitat subdivision, habitat dispersion, and habitat shrinkage can be four consequences of human activities for biodiversity in socioecological hotspots of the UMRB, however, the magnitude of impacts varies among landscapes and mammal species.

Conclusion

Spatially explicit models to properly map SVs in relation to wildlife habitats are still associated with some uncertainties and limitations, and therefore, require further development. Change in SVs and public attitudes toward land use is essential to avoid further biodiversity loss in this region.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation through the EPSCoR Track II cooperative agreement OIA-1632810 and NSF DBI-1560048. We thank Darius Semmens, Selena Ahmed, Julia Haggerty for feedback on the survey instrument and methods; Dylan Lewis, Tanner Hall, Jacinda Maassen, Jade Muller-Smit, Pamela Jackson, Daniel Whirlwind Soldier Petite, Mitchell Houska, Lori Peterson, Brad Frazier, Ann McGehrin, Rebecca Sistad for assistance conducting the surveys; and Andrew Baltensperger and Andrew Sechrist for assistance with the survey data management.

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Correspondence to Amin Rastandeh.

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Rastandeh, A., Jarchow, M. & Carnes, M. Incorporating social values and wildlife habitats for biodiversity conservation modeling in landscapes of the Great Plains. Landscape Ecol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-020-01190-7

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Keywords

  • Socioecological hotspots
  • Social values
  • Wildlife habitats
  • Spatial modeling
  • Socioecological mapping