Connectivity in the Urban Landscape (2015–2020): Who? Where? What? When? Why? and How?




Purpose of Review This review uses a combination of narrative and systematic review techniques, including automated content analysis (ACA), to summarize the last 5 years of research on urban connectivity. It addresses the evolution of the field relative to prior reviews, identifies common themes and research gaps in the studies, and assesses the use of novel methods and data.

Recent Findings We found a broadening of geographic and taxonomic scope in recent studies, including more research from Chinese cities and on multiple species. We also found more studies that covered multiple time periods than have been documented in prior reviews. However, we observed a continuing reliance on best professional judgment rather than empirical field data to parameterize models and on analytic methods that are 10–20 years old. Our review framework identified several distinct conceptual themes in the literature including foci on land cover, including roads, water, and vegetation; green spaces and infrastructure; ecological conservation, planning, and management; habitat structure and function; and species movement.

Summary Urban areas offer the opportunity to leverage unique data sets and novel analytical methods that incorporate both human and other biological needs for connectivity, acknowledging that these two needs may not always align. In terms of data, few of the connectivity results were supported by or tested with empirical data. While nearly two-thirds of the papers reviewed included some measure of functional connectivity, which is an increase from previous reviews, future research would benefit from new modeling approaches that explicitly incorporate the challenges of measuring landscape connectivity within the urban context and from a clear set of shared objectives and goals.

Document Type


Publication Date



This article is part of the Topical Collection on Methodological Developments in Landscape Ecology and Related Fields

Publisher Statement

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022