Comparing and Combining Omniscape and Linkage Mapper Connectivity Analyses in Western Washington
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New methods and approaches in habitat connectivity analysis have evolved since that time. The goal of this analysis was to explore potential methods for assessing habitat connectivity patterns in southwest Washington: should focal species assessments for the coastal WA connectivity project use Omniscape (i.e. Omnidirectional Circuitscape) or Linkage Mapper or a combination of the two? Through this process, we developed a high quality suite of naturalness-based modeling connectivity products that can be used in real-world decision making. These are provided as interactive maps in the Data Basin Gallery, with the data also being available on Science Base.
To answer this, we modeled and mapped the structural connectivity of the region using the two methods, then a combination to highlight the strengths of each method. These results were presented to the WWHCWG in an in-person workshop to evaluate the results.
The decision was as follows: “Linkage Mapper will be the priority analytical tool used in modeling habitat connectivity in the coastal ecoregion. If there is a compelling need to complement Linkage Mapper using Omniscape for a particular species, USFWS can run that analysis if the resistance and habitat surfaces are finalized.”
Specifically, the focus group found that it was the novel overlay of the results from several Linkage Mapper tools into composite maps that was especially effective and useful. One such map was the Connectivity Conservation Priority (weighted overlay of Linkage Pathways, Pinchpoint Mapper, and Linkage Priority Tool) (Figure 10) and Connectivity Restoration Priorities (the previous layer overlaid with the highest priority sites identified by Barrier Mapper) (Figure 13).