In ongoing efforts to expand international research partnerships, WTI is developing a memorandum of agreement with Francesca Russo, PhD of the Road Infrastructures and Transportation Systems Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (DICEA) at the University Federico II of Naples Scuola Politecnica e delle Scienze in Naples, Italy. Led by WTI Program Manager Laura Fay, this collaboration was born from service on the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Low Volume Roads Committee, and will focus on cooperative studies and research exchanges.
WTI Research Engineer Natalie Villwock-Witte recently had the opportunity to meet some of the staff on the campus. Everyone at WTI is looking forward to working with these new partners, and seeing what innovations emerge from sharing ideas between the two countries.
Last week, Marcel Huijser opened the 2018 Australasian Network for Ecology and Transportation (ANET) Conference, in Melbourne, Australia with a keynote address entitled “Road Ecology – Are We Taking the Right Turns?” The Conference, co-hosted by the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand in Victoria, explored the theme “Connecting nature, connecting people.” Marcel also participated in a panel discussion of how technology and innovation influence transportation ecology research and practice, as well as field trips to view local road ecology projects. A profile of his work on animal detection systems, habitat connectivity, and of his role as a visiting professor in Brazil was featured on the conference website.
WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger has co-authored a journal article on the impacts of road expansion on cheetah populations. In June, the Journal for Nature Conservation will publish “Road expansion: A challenge to conservation of mammals, with particular emphasis on the endangered Asiatic cheetah in Iran.” The article summarizes a study to identify hotspot locations along an extremely high-risk road for mammals in northeast Iran (Touran Biosphere Reserve [TBR]) and proposes mitigation measures for mammals such as the Asiatic cheetah and Persian gazelles. The full article is currently available on the Science Direct website.
Citation: Mohammadi, A., Almasieh, K., Clevenger, A., Fatemizadeh, F., Rezaei, A., Jowkar, H., and Kaboli, M. (2018). Road expansion: A challenge to conservation of mammals, with particular emphasis on the endangered Asiatic cheetah in Iran. Journal for Nature Conservation. Volume 43 (June 2018): pp 8-18.
Research Scientist Marcel Huijser, of WTI’s Road Ecology program, will travel to Australia at the end of April for the 2018 Conference of the Australasian Network for Ecology and Transportation (ANET). Marcel has been invited to deliver the keynote address, entitled “Road Ecology – Are We Taking the Right Turns?” at the plenary session on the opening day of the conference.
ANET is a professional network dedicated to the research, design and implementation of environmentally-sensitive infrastructure across Australasia (Australia, New Zealand, and neighboring islands). Serving government, industry, scientists and community groups, ANET’s international conferences aim to share global best practices for identifying and mitigating the ecological impacts of all types of linear infrastructure and transport, including road, rail, pipelines and utility easements.
In February, Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament participated in a five day Road Ecology workshop in Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, entitled “Capacity Building in Designing Mitigation Measures along Linear Infrastructure in Tiger Landscapes.” Rob gave seven presentations at the event, where attendees from India, Nepal, and the U.S. gathered for three days of talks and two days of field trips to central India highway, railway and canal mitigation locations. The week was hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Trust and co-sponsored by Global Tiger Forum and the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of International Programs. Rob also had the opportunity to view other protected species, including rhinos and elephants.
WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger was interviewed by the Rocky Mountain Outlook last week about a new wildlife overpass near Canmore, Alberta and Banff National Park. In “Plans for new TCH overpass in the works,” Clevenger discusses the role of wildlife overpasses in reconnecting grizzly bear populations, which is critical for the long-term viability of the species. The article also highlights Clevenger’s work with colleague Adam Ford to study the wildlife crossing structures in Banff for 17 years, research which revealed grizzly bear travel patterns and the types of crossing structures which are most effective. The full article is available on the Rocky Mountain Outlook website.
Earlier this month, WTI Road Ecology Program Manager, Rob Ament, traveled to Nairobi, Kenya for the first African meeting of the Transport Working Group (TWG). Formed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group (CCSG), the TWG provides guidance on strategies that avoid, minimize, mitigate or compensate for the impacts of surface transportation systems on wildlife connectivity. The TWG is mobilizing road ecologists and transport professional around the world to develop connectivity-minded infrastructure development guidelines for governments and development banks to adopt.
The meeting took place at the campus of the Africa Wildlife Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya. Members represented consultants, NGOs, government agencies, researchers and academia. The agenda and discussions covered the TWG’s scoping document, work plan, and communications support of TWG, as well as the development of guidance documents and transport mitigation resources. Rob Ament, who serves as co-chair of the group, will help develop a briefing paper for the TWG regarding the Multilateral Development Bank Team and how to engage them in transport projects in Africa as well as on other continents. Rob also gave a presentation about the TWG in Arusha, Tanzania, at another meeting hosted by the CCSG in east Africa.
WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger was interviewed by WHYY radio in Canada regarding his 17-year research project to evaluate the wildlife crossing structures in Banff National Park. The discussion highlighted the research techniques used to determine which animals were using the crossing structures; these techniques included animal tracks, hair traps, and remote wildlife cameras. The entire audio interview is available on the WHYY website. The online article also features photos of a fox, wolf, elk, linx and bear using the wildlife crossings, and a video clip of a bear and two cubs on one of the structures.
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.