Functional connectivity is essential for the long-term persistence of populations. However, many studies assess connectivity with a focus on structural connectivity only. Cityscapes, namely urban landscapes, are particularly dynamic and include numerous potential anthropogenic barriers to animal movements, such as roads, traffic or buildings. To assess and compare structural connectivity of habitats and functional connectivity of gene flow of an urban lizard, we here combined species distribution models (SDMs) with an individual-based landscape genetic optimization procedure. The most important environmental factors of the SDMs are structural diversity and substrate type, with high and medium levels of structural diversity as well as open and rocky/gravel substrates contributing most to structural connectivity. By contrast, water cover was the best model of all environmental factors following landscape genetic optimization. The river is thus a major barrier to gene flow, while of the typical anthropogenic factors only buildings showed an effect. Nonetheless, using SDMs as a basis for landscape genetic optimization provided the highest ranked model for functional connectivity. Optimizing SDMs in this way can provide a sound basis for models of gene flow of the cityscape, and elsewhere, while presence-only and presence-absence modelling approaches showed differences in performance. Additionally, interpretation of results based on SDM factor importance can be misleading, dictating more thorough analyses following optimization of SDMs. Such approaches can be adopted for management strategies, for example aiming to connect native common wall lizard populations or disconnect them from non-native introduced populations, which are currently spreading in many cities in Central Europe.
Keywords: biodiversity; conservation; corridor; dispersal; ecology; isolation; management; movement; reptiles; urbanization.
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.