In an unaltered natural landscape, wildlife populations are constantly moving to seek food, water, shelter and mates. Individual animals move between population groups exchanging genetics in the process. Plant communities thrive through the processes of seed dispersal, pollination, and propagation aided by animals, wind and water. Nature thrives because of complex interactions between living organisms (plants, animals and micro-organisms), their physical environments (soil, rock, minerals, water, and air) and the natural cycling of nutrients, energy and water.
Collectively this living and nonliving complex is the very definition of an ecosystem. Ecosystems are essentially a human construct to define our world; small and large; and can be defined spatially such as a small desert wash, or ecologically such as the Sonoran Desert. The White Tank Mountains are an ecosystem. In any ecosystem, living organisms are constantly adapting to changing environmental conditions; climate patterns, natural disturbances (fires, floods and drought), rates of predation, interactions between species and disease. There is constant competition for food, water, space and mates. Species move physically between subpopulations and genetically through reproduction. Reproduction and mortality are constantly in play, and the rates determine whether a population can grow enough to keep up with natural mortality, changing environmental conditions or sudden natural disturbances in any given area.
Connectivity and Corridors
Corridors (also referred to as Linkages) have become the conservation tool that keeps natural systems and crucial habitats interconnected.
- Individual movement to seek survival resources (food, water, cover, mates)
- Dispersal of individuals between subpopulations – gene flow and reduced inbreeding within local populations
- Species to re-colonize suitable habitats
- Seasonal migrations in landscapes where they occur
- Population movement and resilience in response to changing climate, natural disturbances and invasive species
- Maintenance of ecological processes that maintain plant communities such as seed dispersal and pollination; and the flow of nutrients, energy and water
What we know about nature is that given a chance, it will thrive. The conservation of wildlife corridors is about giving nature a chance to thrive by keeping natural systems interconnected, protecting biodiversity, and conserving ecosystem services that humans depend on at local, regional and global scales.