3Linear Elements and Networks

3.1 The Linear Features and Corridors in the Landscape

Linear features in the landscape are commonly created both by nature, such as streams, ridges, and animal trails, or by humans, such as roads, powerlines, ditches, and walking trails1. These linear features affect many ecological characteristics and processes in a landscape, including the influence of wind, solar radiation, the movement of disturbances, or the movement of organisms.

One can consider two categories of linear features: line corridors and strip corridors. Both types of linear features may have the functions of conduits (corridors), barriers or filters for the movement of organisms, disturbances, or for the flow of water, soil, or nutrients. However, strip corridors differ from line corridors in that their width is important for the process or organism of interest, as when they are sufficiently wide to provide habitat and also functions in the landscape, acting as a source or sink for organisms, matter, or disturbances.

Since the difference between line corridors and strip corridors is whether or not they provide habitat (and therefore possible source or sink functions), the distinction is often only a matter of scale and the objective of the analysis.

Literature about corridors is abundant and rapidly increasing. It typically concentrates on riparian vegetation, hedgerows, and roads, but studies have also considered how railroads, dikes, ditches, fences, powerlines, and vegetation ...

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