Managing networked landscapes: conservation in a fragmented, regionally connected world


Ecological fragmentation coupled with changes in climate affects the viability of species and is likely to pose a serious threat for maintaining biodiversity, especially as biodiversity often depends on species ability to migrate between different ecological areas spanning multiple sociopolitical jurisdictions. To reduce the risk to biodiversity, there is a need for connected, interjurisdictional landscape management plans at regional levels. It is a key to identify how decision-makers collaborate and share knowledge, learn, and ultimately make decisions affecting species coexistence. Here, we present a model that mimics multiple political jurisdictions making decisions affecting species migration across a landscape. This management and species movement can be between nations, between public and private landowners, or any other scale of interjurisdictional management in between. The model we present here has direct application to the decisions that managers make regularly and draws upon anecdotal evidence from real-world case studies such as the removal of fences in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in southern Africa, and cooperation to solve regional environmental dilemmas in Arizona between neighbors. Our results highlight the importance of social learning and networks and matching the scale of sociopolitical and ecological processes in order to reduce biodiversity loss. Further, we find that close-knit decision-makers, especially when learning/imitating management strategies the same way, are detrimental to countering biodiversity loss. Finally, our results indicate the importance of allowing decision-makers to have room for experimental, individual learning to broaden the set of management strategies existing within a system to reduce biodiversity loss.

Regional Environmental Change