Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Hierarchical patch delineation in fragmented landscapes

August 28, 2018


We developed a tool, FragPatch (FP), to delineate habitat patches for highly fragmented landscapes from a user-defined suitability map and two landscape perception values for a species of interest.


We wrote a Python script in ArcGIS to delineate habitat patch networks using the user inputs and ArcGIS tools such as Euclidean distance, focal maximum, and reclassify. We validated the tool from mapped locations of urban deer and classified imagery for Syracuse, New York, USA.


FP successfully delineated salient patch networks and functional connectivity for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus borealis) in our fragmented study area, and complements a similar tool, PatchMorph (PM), developed for rural landscape with more uniform land cover.


A trade-off exists when choosing to use FP or PM and the decision must rely upon a well-defined research question. FP is better suited for isolating patches of habitat when the surrounding matrix is of low quality and suitable areas are highly scattered on the landscape. PM is able to identify patches when the matrix is more uniform, and is better at identifying broader scale connectivity than FP. We expect species biologists and urban landscape planners to use FP to better define patch networks and to understand the implications of fragmentation on a range of species population concerns, including conflicts with human uses.

Publication Year 2018
Title Hierarchical patch delineation in fragmented landscapes
DOI 10.1007/s10980-018-0679-z
Authors Chellby R. Kilheffer, H. Brian Underwood
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Landscape Ecology
Index ID 70198955
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center