Landscape Connectivity within MSCP Lands: Bobcats as Indicators

Current land management plans throughout Southern California are working to preserve a network of habitat and open space, protecting biodiversity by establishing a network of core habitat areas that are intended to be connected via linkage regions. Connectivity among these cores is essential. Fragmentation and habitat loss can alter movement patterns and reduce genetic diversity by disrupting gene flow, which directly reduces population viability within core areas. Therefore, the integrity and function of this network of preserves relies on linkages as a key design element to maintain connectivity amongst the conserved areas.

San Diego State University (SDSU), in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), has undertaken a multi-faceted research project to study both the structural and functional connectivity of several of key zones using bobcats as an indicator species. This project involves trapping, collaring, and GPS tracking of bobcats in key core areas in the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) open space network. These data will be supplemented by remote camera station surveys, roadkill collection, and genetic screening of all study animals. This combination of data sources will allow us to identify specific corridors, pinch points, and barriers between the targeted cores so we can assess the functionality of priority linkages across the open space network. We will also be investigating the effect of human recreation activities in open space preserves and how recreation may alter bobcat corridor and habitat use. After determining the current status of connectivity across the network, we plan to use modeling to examine how that status may change in the future as vegetation types shift in response to climate change and with expanded land development.

For more information: Bobcat Report