The October issue of Current Biology will feature an article entitled “Roads threaten Asiatic cheetahs in Iran,” about the impacts of wildlife vehicle collisions on the endangered species (there are fewer than 50 free roaming cheetahs in the country). The authors reached out to WTI Research Ecologist Marcel Huijser to provide input and assistance on the road ecology components, and they recently contacted WTI to acknowledge Marcel’s “invaluable comments.” The final article is available online.
Road Ecology Researcher Marcel Huijser and his colleagues have a newly published journal article in Biological Conservation. “A fence runs through it: A call for greater attention to the inﬂuence of fences on wildlife and ecosystems” is one of the first empirical investigations of the interactions between fences, wildlife, ecosystems, and societal needs. It illustrates the global prevalence of fencing, outlines fence function and common designs, reviews the pros and cons of fencing relative to wildlife conservation, and identifies knowledge gaps and research needs in fence ecology. The full article is available at online.
CITATION: Jakes, A.F., P.F. Jones, L.C. Paige, R.G. Seidler & M.P. Huijser. 2018. A fence runs through it: A call for greater attention to the inﬂuence of fences on wildlife and ecosystems. Biological Conservation 227: 310-318.
In September, the Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE) held its International Conference in the Netherlands, focusing on the theme of “Crossing borders for a greener and sustainable transport infrastructure.” WTI’s Road Ecology staff members were front and center throughout the 5-day event, presenting their research and experience on wildlife crossings, habitat connectivity, and related topics to more than 300 attendees from around the world.
WTI Research Engineer Natalie Villwock-Witte just returned from Cascade Locks, Oregon, where she participated in the mid-year meeting of Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on the Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands (ADA 40). Committee members had the opportunity to try out the new Columbia Gorge Express shuttle service, and visit Multnomah Falls and the Bonneville Dam.
In Brazil, Research Scientist Marcel Huijser continues his research and academic exchange at the University of São Paulo, where he is serving as a guest professor. He shared this picture of a road ecology field trip with graduate students at the University’s Botucatu campus.
At the West Region Transportation Workforce Center (WRTWC), the first Research Experience for Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program is well underway. Ten middle, high school, and community college faculty participants are conducting multidisciplinary transportation research for six weeks at Montana State University this summer. The research topic areas focus on the unique challenges of rural transportation systems and developing solutions to transportation challenges through innovation. In addition to working with faculty and research mentors on research, the ITS-RET participants are translating their research experiences into classroom curricula.
On July 31 and August 1, the teachers were able to implement new teaching materials they developed during a two-day workshop held for middle and high school students. The classroom activities demonstrated what an excellent vehicle transportation is for integrated STEM learning. The young workshop participants were able to hone computational thinking skills during a programming challenge, test the strength of different materials, build and test crash attenuators, and use drones to survey a landscape before designing and building wildlife crossing structures. The classroom modules will be posted to the WRTWC website next month as a resource for other teachers. Teachers interested in participating in the RET program next summer can visit the Center website for additional information: http://wrtwc.org/resources/for-educators/
View the WTI project description
WRTWC is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and based at the Western Transportation Institute.
When the Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE) meets for its International Conference this fall, one of the keynote speakers will be WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger. Tony will travel to the Netherlands in September to present “Through the lens of time: Long-term research integrating behavior, landscape ecology and conservation along the Trans-Canada Highway.” He will discuss his 17 years of research in Banff National Park, which IENE describes as “one of the best testing sites of innovative highway mitigation in the world.” Additional information about the conference and Tony’s presentation is available on the IENE conference website.
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.
At a recent meeting, the county commissioners of Teton County, Wyoming approved a wildlife crossings master plan, which will now become part of the region’s Integrated Transportation Plan. The Plan was developed by WTI’s Road Ecology program, with Research Ecologist Marcel Huijser serving as the Principal Investigator. Focused on key highway segments near Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park, the Plan identifies and prioritizes locations where the installation of wildlife crossing structures can enhance safety, prevent collisions, and preserve connectivity. During the course of the project, Road Ecology staff also traveled to Wyoming for public meetings to assist with local outreach efforts. Approval of the plan was covered by the Jackson Hole News; the full plan is available on the WTI project page.
Mountains and Minds is Montana State University’s premier print publication for showcasing the institution’s people, events, and accomplishments. Published only twice a year, Mountains and Minds selected some familiar young fish for the new edition’s coveted cover photo: young grayling from the Bozeman Fish Technology Center (BFTC), raised for the fish passage research conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Montana State University (MSU) Department of Ecology, the MSU Department of Civil Engineering, and WTI.
In addition to the cover photo, the magazine includes a 10-page feature story (and stunning photo spread!) describing the 15 years of research conducted by these partners to better understand how native fish species move through waterways and how to improve fish passage through their habitats. WTI Research Scientist Matt Blank is interviewed about his early culvert research as well as his efforts with the partners to build the artificial flume at BFTC for fish swimming studies. Graduate students Ben Triano and Nolan Platt discuss their field work in the Big Hole River studying grayling in their native environment.
WTI Newswire will provide a link to the article when this issue is available online. Details about the grayling research are available on the WTI website; more information about the collaborative research program is available on the MSU Fish Passage webpage.