Forecasts of habitat suitability improve habitat corridor efficacy in rapidly changing environments
Aim Habitat fragmentation threatens species' persistence by increasing subpopulation isolation and vulnerability to stochastic events, and its impacts are expected to worsen under climate change. By reconnecting isolated fragments, habitat corridors should dampen the synergistic impacts of habitat and climate change on population viability. Choosing which fragments to reconnect is typically informed by past and current environmental conditions. However, habitat and climate are dynamic and change over time. Habitat suitability projections could inform fragment selection using current and future conditions, ensuring that corridors connect persistent fragments. We compare the efficacy of using current-day and future forecasts of breeding habitat to inform corridor placement under land cover and climate-change mitigation and no mitigation scenarios by evaluating their influence on subpopulation abundance, and connectivity and long-term metapopulation abundance. Our case study is the threatened orangutan metapopulation in Sabah.