Corridors Increase Movement: A Meta-Analytical Review
Using corridors for conservation is increasing despite a lack of consensus on their efficacy. Specifically, whether corridors increase movement of plants and animals between habitat fragments has been addressed on a case-by-case basis with mixed results. Because of the growing number of well-designed experiments that have addressed this question, we conducted a meta-analysis to determine whether corridors increase movement; whether corridor effectiveness differs among taxa; how recent changes in experimental design have influenced findings; and whether corridor effectiveness differs between manipulative and natural experiments. To conduct our meta-analysis, we analyzed 78 experiments from 35 studies using a conservative hierarchical Bayesian model that accounts for hierarchical and sampling dependence. We found a highly significant result that corridors increase movement between habitat patches by approximately 50% compared to patches that are not connected with corridors. We found that corridors were more important for the movement of invertebrates, nonavian vertebrates, and plants than they were for birds. Recent methodological advances in corridor experiments, such as controlling for the area added by corridors, did not influence whether corridors increased movement, whereas controlling for the distance between source and connected or unconnected recipient patches decreased movement through corridors. After controlling for taxa differences and whether studies controlled for distance in experimental design, we found that natural corridors (those existing in landscapes prior to the study) showed more movement than manipulated corridors (those created and maintained for the study). Our results suggest that existing corridors increase species movement in fragmented landscapes and that efforts spent on maintaining and creating corridors are worthwhile.
Gilbert-Norton, L.*, R. Wilson*, J.M. Stevens, and K.H. Beard†. 2010. Corridors increase movement: A meta-analytical review. Conservation Biology 24(3): 660-668. (†contact author) Also published in International Year of Biodiversity: Connectivity and Corridors, on-line April 2010.