Wildlife Corridors and Road Crossings

 

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As natural habitat is increasingly subjected to the effects of human-induced land use change, the ability of wildlife to move across the landscape to acquire resources, mate, and disperse to new populations is negatively impacted. For these reasons, wildlife and conservation biologists have long promoted the identification and conservation of wildlife corridors connecting habitats and protected areas.

There are currently myriad methods for modeling connectivity and corridors and only limited information on how sensitive corridor outputs are to which methods are used. My colleagues and I were the first to examine the performance of multiple data inputs and connectivity algorithms for modeling wildlife corridors. We found using pathway data from GPS telemetry collars captures actual dispersal routes of wildlife better than other data types such as opportunistic detection data.

My colleagues and I have modeled wildlife corridors for applied conservation efforts, such as identifying corridors connecting populations of jaguars throughout their geographic range. And validating these corridors through the development of a rapid assessment protocol that can be used across large geographic areas with multiple parcels of private land. We have also identified mountain lion corridors across Southern California. These model outputs are currently being used by San Diego County and other stakeholders in the region to prioritize lands for conservation.

I am also interested in assisting with the safe passage of wildlife across roadways. In North America alone, there are approximately 1-2 million vehicle collisions with mammals, resulting in over 200 human fatalities and over $1 billion in property damage every year. I have been involved with research to model road crossing locations of mountain lions, bobcats, mule deer, wood rat, California mouse, and wrentit in Southern California as well as recommending road crossing structure specifications for the California Department of Transportation. I am currently modeling moose and black bear road crossing locations in Massachusetts to direct statewide mitigation efforts.