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Assessment of habitat quality and landscape connectivity for forest-dependent cracids in the Sierra Madre del Sur Mesoamerican biological corridor, Mexico

Escobar Ocampo M.C., Castillo Santiago M.Á., Ochoa-Gaona S., Enríquez P.L., Sibelet N.. 2019. Tropical Conservation Science, 12 : 16 p..

DOI: 10.1177/1940082919878827

Assessing landscape connectivity allows us to identify critical areas that impede or facilitate the movement of organisms and their genes and to plan their conservation and management. In this article, we assessed landscape connectivity and ecological condition of the habitat patches of a highly biodiverse region in Chiapas, Mexico. We employed data of three cracid species with different characteristics in habitat use and mobility. The habitat map of each species was derived from a spatial intersection of the models of potential distribution and a high-resolution map of current land cover and land use. The ecological condition of vegetation types was evaluated using 75 field plots. Structure of landscape was estimated by fragmentation metrics, while functional connectivity was assessed using spatially explicit graph analysis. The extent of suitable habitat for Oreophasis derbianus, Penelopina nigra, and Penelope purpurascens correspond to 25%, 46%, and 55% of the study area (5,185.6¿km2), respectively. Although the pine-oak forests were the most fragmented vegetation type, habitats of the three species were well connected, and only 4% to 9% of the fragments located on the periphery of the corridor had low connectivity. Landscape connectivity depends mainly on land uses with an intermediate and lower ecological condition (secondary forests and coffee agroforestry systems). Therefore, we suggest that in addition to promoting the improvement in connectivity in fragmented forests, conservation efforts should be aimed at preventing the conversion of mature forests into agricultural uses and maintaining agroforestry systems.

Mots-clés : biodiversité; oiseau; habitat; morcellement de forêt; distribution spatiale; agroforesterie; mexique; chiapas; cracidae

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