Session Description: Spatial network approaches in conservation planning and natural resource management have undergone rich developments since their first applications two decades ago. By combining the mathematics of graph theory with concepts of landscape ecology, spatial networks have proven to be robust tools to quantify functional connectivity and assist in the design of conservation reserve networks. This active field of research is very dynamic such that novel connectivity metrics and wider applications have emerged. For example, the development of spatio-temporal networks to foresee future changes in habitat connectivity, the integration of functional trait ecology to design resilient forest landscapes, and the application of spatial networks to social-ecological governance problems, all stemmed from innovative network developments needed to address stressing environmental issues. We expect therefore that spatial networks will become increasingly useful models for the conservation of biodiversity and the management of natural resources at the landscape scale in the context of global changes. By their simplicity, robustness and compatibility with other dynamic and spatial models, spatial networks can help design solutions to challenges raised by the uncertainty in future environmental conditions, shift in species distribution, increased urbanisation, and risks from natural disturbances.
This special session will highlight recent conceptual and methodological advances in spatial network approaches. It will bring together presenters working in different fields of application to discuss their ongoing research with the participants.