Journal of Environmental Economics and Management

Wildlife corridors as a connected subgraph problem

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Wildlife corridors connect areas of biological significance to mitigate the negative ecological impacts of habitat fragmentation. In this article we formalize the optimal corridor design as a connected subgraph problem, which maximizes the amount of suitable habitat in a fully connected parcel network linking core habitat areas, subject to a constraint on the funds available for land acquisition. To solve this challenging computational problem, we propose a hybrid approach that combines graph algorithms with Mixed Integer Programming-based optimization. We apply this technique to the design of corridors for grizzly bears in the U.S. Northern Rockies, illustrating the underlying computational complexities by varying the granularity of the parcels available for acquisition. The approach that is introduced is general and can be applied to other species or other similar problems, such as those occurring in social networks. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.