The Lower Columbia River and adjacent coastal regions of Washington contain a rich diversity of natural and cultural resources managed by a complex array of tribal sovereign nations, federal/state/local agencies, non-government conservation organizations, landowners, stakeholders and others. In 2010, the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group’s statewide analysis identified a need for a closer look at this landscape extending from the Southern Cascades (from approximately Mount Rainier to the Columbia River), through southwestern Washington, and into the Olympic Peninsula due to patterns that emerged for several species in this landscape and the limitations of the broad-scale spatial data required for the regional analysis. 

The Cascadia Partner Forum has recognized ecological connectivity as a priority issue since our inception, including the importance of having scientific products to inform land and resource management.

Currently, an effort to analyze habitat connectivity in this region is underway. To inform the approach to the analysis, Conservation Biology Institute and US Fish and Wildlife Service led an effort with contributions from Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group members to explore potential methods for assessing habitat connectivity patterns in southwest Washington.  The specific question was whether focal species assessments for the coastal WA connectivity project should use Omniscape (i.e. Omnidirectional Circuitscape) or Linkage Mapper or a combination of the two? Through the process to answer this question, a high quality suite of naturalness-based modeling connectivity products were developed that can be used in real-world decision making. These are provided as interactive maps in a Data Basin Gallery, with the data also being available on Science Base.

This work may inform future habitat connectivity modelling efforts throughout Cascadia, while offers information on habitat connectivity patterns in the south Cascades and the network of habitats that connect the Cascades to the Washington coast. The paper below was released this month:

Gallo, J.A., E.C. Butts, T.A. Miewald, K.A. Foster. 2019. Comparing and Combining Omniscape and Linkage Mapper Connectivity Analyses in Western Washington. Published by: Conservation Biology Institute. Corvallis, OR, https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8120924  

Categories: Priority Issues