In September 2018, the journal Biological Conservation will publish an article whose lead author is Fernanda Abra, one of Marcel Huijser’s Ph.D. students at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. “How reliable are your data? Verifying species identification of road-killed mammals recorded by road maintenance personnel in São Paulo State, Brazil” was based on research to investigate more than 3000 images of roadkill animals along toll roads in Brazil. The species in these images were identified by wildlife experts and compared to the species identification previously done by maintenance personnel. The results suggested that non-experts can reliably identify common mammals, but reliability decreases with rare species or those that closely resemble another species. An advance copy of the article is currently available online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320717318906.
Citation: Abra F.D., M.P. Huijser, C.S. Pereira & K. Ferraz. 2018. How reliable are your data? Verifying species identification of road-killed mammals recorded by road maintenance personnel in São Paulo State, Brazil. Biological Conservation 225: 42-52.
For the second time in less than six months, TR News magazine has selected a WTI project for its “Research Pays Off” section, which highlights research that has produced tangible and valuable benefits. “Wyoming Intercity Bus Service Study: Finding and Filling the Gaps in Rural Areas” is featured in the March/April 2018 issue of TR News, published by the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board. Authored by Principal Investigator David Kack, the article describes a project conducted for the Wyoming Department of Transportation to identify potential Intercity bus routes that would increase access for underserved communities. The study led directly to the expansion of available services after a transportation provider contacted the Wyoming DOT to initiate a partnership that resulted in new service on one of the identified routes. The full article is posted on the project page.
The November/December 2017 issue of TR News highlighted the One-Stop Shop Traveler Information project in the “Research Pays Off” feature. This article is also available on the WTI website.
(TR News is copyright, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; posted with permission of the Transportation Research Board.)
A team of Montana-based fish passage researchers continue to produce notable results using the outdoor experimental flume at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center. Northwest Science has published the journal article “Sprint Swimming Performance of Shovelnose Sturgeon in an Open-Channel Flume.” The article, authored by Luke Holmquist of MSU’s Department of Ecology, Kevin Kappenman of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Matt Blank of WTI, and Matt Schultz highlights research to study the swimming abilities of wild shovelnose sturgeon in fish passage structures. The results indicate that their swimming abilities have been underestimated in the past. These findings will help improve future designs of fish passage structures and facilitate efforts to prevent habitat fragmentation for this species.
The research is a collaboration among WTI, the MSU Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and one of several projects the partners have conducted together. More information about the sturgeon project is available on the project page and more information about the collaborative research program is available on the MSU Fish Passage webpage.
Citation: Luke Holmquist, Kevin Kappenman, Matt D. Blank, and Matt Schultz. Sprint Swimming Performance of Shovelnose Sturgeon in an Open-Channel Flume. Northwest Science 2018 92 (1), 61-71.
The Montana Department of Transportation has released the final reports for two projects by WTI researchers:
- “Evaluation of Effectiveness and Cost-Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products.” This research project developed three types of products for study: woolen erosion control blankets (ECBs), wool incorporated into wood fiber compost, and wool incorporated into silt fence. The project, supported by Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, compared the wool products’ performance to roadside reclamation products commonly used for revegetating cut slopes. Rob Ament (P.I.) and Eli Cuelho served on the research team. The final report and project summary are available on the MDT website. Additional information and all of the reports related to this project are available on the WTI website.
- “Feasibility of Non-Proprietary Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) for Use in Highway Bridges in Montana.” Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) has mechanical and durability properties that far exceed those of conventional concrete. However, using UHPC in conventional concrete applications has been cost prohibitive, costing 20 times that of conventional concrete. The overall objective of the Phase I research was to develop and characterize economical non-proprietary UHPC mixes made with materials readily available in Montana. The research was led by Michael Berry. The final report and project summary are available on the MDT website and additional project information is available on the WTI website.
The Montana Department of Transportation has released the final report for “Investigation of Prefabricated Steel Truss/Bridge Deck Systems,” a WTI and MSU Civil Engineering project led by Damon Fick, Tyler Kuehl, Michael Berry, and Jerry Stephens. The study evaluated a prototype of a welded steel truss constructed with an integral concrete deck, which has been proposed as a potential alternative for accelerated bridge construction (ABC) projects in Montana. Steel truss bridges are relatively light weight compared with plate girder systems, which makes them a desirable alternative for both material savings and constructability. The full report and a summary report are available on the MDT website. Additional project information is available on the WTI website.
The Upper Great Plains Institute at North Dakota State University has released a report that provides information about transit service availability and cost to help the transit industry in the United States meet rural community mobility needs. The information in this report may help managers and lawmakers with policy making, planning, managing operations, and evaluating performance. This report also serves as a national resource for statistics and information on rural transit in the United States. The study was sponsored by USDOT and WTI’s Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC) and is available here.
TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Report 861: Best Practices in Rural Regional Mobility addresses the role of state transit program policies and regional planning agencies in the development of rural regional services. The report provides lessons learned on how to address needs for rural regional mobility, and includes a checklist for developing a rural regional route. It also highlights best practices from a number of states, including Montana. The Montana case study describes WTI’s work with Opportunity Link and North Central Montana Transit to develop regional services between Havre and Great Falls, Montana. The full NCHRP report is available through the Transportation Research Board.
The Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates (CESTiCC) has released “The Reliability and Effectiveness of a Radar-Based Animal Detection System.” This final is based on research by WTI Research Scientist Marcel Huijser and international colleagues at the University of SÃo Paulo, Brazil. The project studied the reliability and effectiveness of an animal detection system along U.S. Hwy 95 near Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The system uses a Doppler radar to detect large mammals (e.g., deer and elk) when they approach the highway. The report includes data on the rates of successful animal detections, the impact of the warning signs on vehicle speeds, practical recommendations for operation and maintenance of the system, and suggestions for potential future research. The project was a collaboration among WTI, U.S. Department of Transportation, the Idaho Transportation Department, Sloan Security Technologies, and the University of SÃo Paulo, Brazil. The final report is available on the WTI project page.
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.
WTI Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament and colleagues Renee Callahan and Hannah Jaicks (both of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation) authored a chapter in the recently published book Biological Conservation in the 21st Century: A Conservation Biology of Large Wildlife. Their chapter is entitled ”Crossroads Conservation: Identifying Solutions to the Cultural Barriers of Transportation Agencies so Internal Champions of Wildlife Crossings Can Thrive,” and summarizes similarities and differences among states regarding their approach to wildlife crossings. It includes results of Hannah Jaicks post-doc work interviewing department of transportation personnel in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming on barriers to building wildlife crossings. This research was sponsored through a partnership with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
Citation: Jaicks, H., Ament, R. and Callahan, R. (2017). Crossroads Conservation: Identifying Solutions to the Cultural Barriers of Transportation Agencies so Internal Champions of Wildlife Crossings Can Thrive in Campbell, Michael O’Neal (editor), Biological Conservation in the 21st Century: A Conservation Biology of Large Wildlife (pp 91 -120). New York: Nova Science Publishers.