A peer-reviewed study of wildlife crossing structures used by grizzly bears has revealed usage patterns that may help re-connect populations and support conservation efforts. The Wildlife Society Bulletin has published “Road Mitigation is a Demographic Filter for Grizzly Bears,” by Adam Ford, Mirjam Barrueto, and WTI’s Tony Clevenger, based on research that investigated five crossing structure designs installed at 44 sites along the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park. Using both tracking data and camera images, the research team compared usage of the five types of structures between single bears and family groups of bears. While single bears used both tunnels and overpasses, grizzly females traveling with cubs showed a strong preference for overpasses. The study was featured last week on the University of British Columbia website and highlighted today on Science Daily. The full journal article is available in the online edition of the Wildlife Society Bulletin.
The Mexican Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (National Transportation Department) sponsored its first national Road Ecology workshop in Hermosillo, Senora, Mexico in early October. WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger was one of three presenters invited to lead this inaugural forum. Organizers, including the Secretaria, the Wildlands Network, and other partner agencies, anticipated only 50 attendees, but the event attracted more than 100 participants.
Tony Clevenger (left) at the first national road ecology workshop in Mexico.
Ecology and Evolution has published an article on threats to wolverine populations, which was co-authored by WTI researcher Tony Clevenger. “Cumulative effects of climate and landscape change drive spatial distribution of Rocky Mountain wolverine” describes research in the Canadian Rockies that used camera trapping, genetic tagging, and modeling to investigate whether the interaction of climate change and landscape change may result in declining populations of wolverines.
Citation: Heim N, Fisher JT, Clevenger A, Paczkowski J, Volpe J. Cumulative effects of climate and landscape change drive spatial distribution of Rocky Mountain wolverine (Gulo gulo L.). Ecology and Evolution. 2017;00:1–12.
The Center for Health and Safety Culture’s research scientist Kari Finley has been selected to present at the Thirteenth International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in Granada, Spain in July 2018. Her presentation, “Understanding the Culture of Traffic Safety Citizenship” will highlight exciting new research from the center. Attendees will learn about traffic safety citizenship, cultural factors predictive of prosocial traffic safety behaviors, and ways to grow citizenship behaviors.
WTI Road Ecologist Marcel Huijser continues to partner with colleagues in Brazil on both research and academic projects. In August, he taught a weeklong course at the University of Sao Paulo (USP) on “Road Ecology and the Conservation of Biodiversity.” His students are studying Wildlife Ecology, Management and Conservation in the Forest Science Department at USP. Over the years, Marcel’s work in Brazil has included teaching, mentoring, international exchanges with Brazilian researchers, presentations to government agencies, and consulting on road development projects.
Marcel Huijser (fifth from left) and students in the Road Ecology course
The West Region Transportation Workforce Center at WTI and Moscow State University for Transport Engineering (MIIT) in Russia have completed a unique, year-long collaboration designed to make transportation in rural communities more accessible to people with disabilities. In both countries, rural transit agencies struggle to meet accessibility requirements because of limited funding and large service areas. After recognizing their mutual goals, the two institutions realized that both would benefit from sharing research findings and other resources. The project was jointly sponsored by the Eurasia Foundation’s University Partnership Program and by the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center.
After WTI researchers collected information about different accessibility training programs, they shared the information with MIIT, as well as with transit providers in the U.S., both on the West Region Transportation Workforce Center website and through a series of webinars. The researchers also compared accessibility education programs and data from surveys of transit providers in their respective countries to identify barriers and successes to providing accessible transportation services. For more information, check out the feature article published by the Montana State University News Service.
WTI’s Road Ecology program is building a growing presence in Latin America. Recently, researchers have been invited to present at several high profile conservation conferences and workshops, with more collaborations on the horizon for 2017.
In November, Tony Clevenger attended and gave the keynote presentation at the 1st Iberoamerican Congress on Biodiversity Conservation and Transportation at the Federal University in Lavras, Brasil. New environmental impact assessment laws in Brazil have generated growing interest in road effects, impacts assessments, and planning measures to mitigate impacts. Tony is also helping the Congress organizers plan a wildlife crossing design parameters workshop in fall 2017, modeled after the ARC (Animal Road Crossing) Solutions workshop in Bozeman, Montana. Tony is currently co-supervsing two graduate students at the University of Lavras, with additional educational exchanges planned for later in 2017.
Also in November, Tony Clevenger attended a two-day workshop in Mexico City, “TALLER NACIONAL INTERSECTORIAL DE MITIGACIÓN DE IMPACTOS POR OBRAS DE INFRAESTRUCTURA SOBRE EL JAGUAR Y SU HÁBITAT”[National workshop on mitigating impacts of infrastructure on jaguars and their habitat]. The goal of the workshop was to bring together high level administrators from the Ministries of Transportation, Energy, Tourism, Pemex, and Protected Areas, to share information regarding threats and alternatives to mitigate infrastructure impacts on jaguar populations, connectivity, and habitat in the Mayan Forest (Yucatan states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Merida). From this workshop a pilot project has been initiated with interagency involvement to identify critical areas for mitigating infrastructure impacts on jaguars in Yucatan, Belize, and Guatemala.
Later in 2017, outreach opportunities exist in Central America. There is a high level government meeting planned for the Mesoamerican countries that will take place in Costa Rica in October 2017. In response to a Mesoamerican initiative (Puebla to Panama) to construct more than 30,000 km of new roads in this region, governments are exploring green infrastructure to help protect their rich biodiversity and maintain connected habitats and wildlife populations.
Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament recently returned from an international conservation forum in Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India. Rob was invited to participate in a meeting of the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Asian Elephant Specialist Group, as a support specialist on transportation mitigation and wildlife corridors. This was the first time the world’s leading experts have gathered in 14 years, and representatives from all 13 countries with existing wild Asian elephants attended.
WTI’s Marcel Huijser attended a conference in Lyon, France last month where he connected with Chinese Academy of Transportation Sciences (CATS) associates. The group later met up in The Netherlands where Marcel provided them with an excursion to a multifunctional wildlife overpass. Natuurbrug Zanderij Crailoo is almost a half mile long (800 meters)and includes a bridge across a 2-lane highway and another bridge across a railroad and railroad yard. There are embankments for the corridor in between the two bridges and also through a golf course.
Tony Clevenger was invited by Juan Carlos Bravo of the Wildlands Network Mexico to present on Sustainable Highways at a Road Congress of more than 1,000 transportation engineers in Puerto Vallarta, Mexcio, July 6-8, 2016. The Mexican Minister of Transportation and Environment attended and gave presentations. Tony and Juan Carlos were approached by the head of Environmental Assessments for the Ministry of Transportation regarding WTI and Wildlands Network Mexico’s possible involvement as independent reviewers for highway project assessments done in wildlife sensitive areas.