Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution has published “Performance of Arch-Style Road Crossing Structures from Relative Movement Rates of Large Mammals,” authored by A.Z. Andis (University of Montana/Yale University), Marcel Huijser of WTI, and Len Broberg (University of Montana). The team measured the movements of large mammal species at 15 wildlife underpasses on U.S. Highway 93 in Montana, documenting findings for several species including white-tailed deer, mule deer, black bear and coyote.
Citation: Andis AZ, Huijser MP and Broberg L (2017) Performance of Arch-Style Road Crossing Structures from Relative Movement Rates of Large Mammals. Front. Ecol. Evol. 5:122. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2017.00122
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.
In late September, Research Scientist Tony Clevenger was invited to speak at the Howard H. Baker Jr Center for Public Policy. Located at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the Baker Center holds nationally prominent events pertaining to the Center’s three areas of focus: Energy & Environment, Global Security, and Leadership & Government. Previous speakers have included U.S. Ambassadors, private industry CEOs, and renowned policy experts. Tony was the keynote speaker for the Center’s Energy and Environment Center, and his presentation addressed “The Changing Landscape of Transportation: Designing Roads for Wildlife Conservation.”
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.
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
Vox Media has produced a new video about wildlife crossing structures, which it released to its news website Vox.com last week. “Wildlife crossings stop roadkill. Why aren’t there more?” is a six-minute video that introduces why wildlife crossings are needed, how they work, where they are currently used, and how effective they are. Much of the foundational information and data about wildlife vehicle collisions is attributed to the 2008 National Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study and Report to Congress, which was authored by WTI’s Marcel Huijser, Pat McGowen, Tony Clevenger, Rob Ament, and additional researchers from the WTI Road Ecology program. Also, Tony Clevenger is interviewed on-camera in the video about the successful wildlife crossing structures in Banff National Park. The video is available to view on the vox.com website.
Marcel Huijser and Rob Ament traveled to Jackson, Wyoming on July 19, 2017 to collect public feedback on a proposed wildlife plan for Teton County. WTI is leading the development of a Wildlife Crossings Master Plan for the county, which will propose strategies for reducing the impacts of roads on wildlife that live in or migrate through the area. At the meeting, Marcel (Principal Investigator) and Rob presented preliminary findings, such as the collision hotspots identified, as well as a number of potential solutions, such as overpasses, underpasses, sensors, and improved lighting. Members of the public who attended the forum had the opportunity to review maps, ask questions, and make suggestions regarding elements of the plan, which is scheduled for completion at the end of the year. The Plan is designed to provide planning guidance to the Teton County Board of County Commissioners.
Marcel Huijser presents a proposed Wildlife Crossings Master Plan at the Teton County Library in Jackson, Wyoming.
The meeting was well-attended by the public and local media. For a more in-depth account, read the feature articles by the Jackson Hole News before and after the event. Project information is also available here.
The Londoner, a news website out of London, Ontario cited WTI research in a story about the threats that highways pose to vulnerable wildlife. In “Highway Perils,” author Jenna Hunnef discusses the potential benefits of wildlife crossing structures: “Some may question the financial feasibility of such projects, but the numbers don’t lie: a 2008 report by the Western Transportation Institute estimates that the total annual cost of wildlife-vehicle collisions is over $8 billion in the United States alone.” Read the full article here.
Environmental Connection, the magazine of the International Erosion Control Association, published a feature article about Rob Ament’s wool research in its July 2017 issue. “Bullish for Wool: Using Wool in Erosion Control Blankets Shows Promising Results in Montana Study” summarizes the results of a project funded by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates (CESTTiCC). The goal of the field study was to conduct a side-by-side comparison of the performance of wool products with the performance of more commonly used roadside reclamation products (straw/coir ECBs and wood fiber compost). The woolen reclamation products developed for this project demonstrated notable results: all six types of wool erosion control blankets outperformed the control products. Since the project targeted the use of waste wool or other harvested fiber that is substandard or currently unmarketable, the use of this wool for erosion control offers both environmental and economic benefits.
Experimental plots along U.S. Highway 287 near Three Forks, Montana