Improving Urban Habitat Connectivity for Native Birds: Using Least-Cost Path Analyses to Design Urban Green Infrastructure Networks

MacKinnon, M
Pedersen Zari, M
Brown, DK
Item type
Journal Article
Degree name
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Habitat loss and fragmentation are primary threats to biodiversity in urban areas. Least-cost path analyses are commonly used in ecology to identify and protect wildlife corridors and stepping-stone habitats that minimise the difficulty and risk for species dispersing across human-modified landscapes. However, they are rarely considered or used in the design of urban green infrastructure networks, particularly those that include building-integrated vegetation, such as green walls and green roofs. This study uses Linkage Mapper, an ArcGIS toolbox, to identify the least-cost paths for four native keystone birds (kererū, tūī, korimako, and hihi) in Wellington, New Zealand, to design a network of green roof corridors that ease native bird dispersal. The results identified 27 least-cost paths across the central city that connect existing native forest habitats. Creating 0.7 km2 of green roof corridors along these least-cost paths reduced cost-weighted distances by 8.5–9.3% for the kererū, tūī, and korimako, but there was only a 4.3% reduction for the hihi (a small forest bird). In urban areas with little ground-level space for green infrastructure, this study demonstrates how least-cost path analyses can inform the design of building-integrated vegetation networks and quantify their impacts on corridor quality for target species in cities.

4101 Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation , 4102 Ecological Applications , 33 Built Environment and Design , 41 Environmental Sciences , 3301 Architecture , 15 Life on Land , 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities , 0502 Environmental Science and Management , 3301 Architecture , 3304 Urban and regional planning , 4104 Environmental management
Land, ISSN: 2073-445X (Print); 2073-445X (Online), MDPI AG, 12(7), 1456-1456. doi: 10.3390/land12071456
Rights statement
© 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (