Project BearConnect – Functional connectivity and ecological sustainability of European ecological networks – a case study with the brown bear funded under BiodivERsA 2015-2016 joint COFUND on “Understanding and managing biodiversity dynamics to improve ecosystem functioning and delivery of ecosystem services in a global change context: the cases of soils and sediments, and land- river and sea-scapes (habitat connectivity, green and blue infrastructures, and naturing cities)” Theme #2: Understanding and managing biodiversity dynamics in land-, river- and sea-scapes (habitat connectivity, green and blue infrastructures, and naturing cities) to improve ecosystem functioning and delivery of ecosystem services
Project duration: March 2017 to February 2020
Europe is a mosaic of landscapes that have long been shaped by human activities. Nevertheless, parts of Europe harbour extremely high biological diversity and still host populations of large carnivores. These predators at the top of the food webs have charismatic and cultural value, regulate biodiversity and ecosystem functioning over large scales, and deliver important ecosystem services. Successful conservation of these important species depends on strategies that allow for population expansion and exchange of individuals among subpopulations, to enable them to fulfill their vital role in the ecosystem while minimizing conflict with humans. This requires coherent systems of ecological networks that consider protected areas and reserves together with other non-protected components of the landscape matrix.
In this project, we are focusing on the largest and most iconic terrestrial carnivore, the brown bear (Ursus arctos) to investigate the degree to which existing ecological networks, including national protected areas and the Natura 2000 network, ensure landscape functional connectivity (the degree to which landscapes facilitate the movement of individuals and associated genes) and ecological sustainability (the ability of landscapes to support resilient populations) at different scales in Europe, and to provide practical recommendations for their improvement.
More information on the project website http://www.bearconnect.org/index.php