WTI Road Ecologists Rob Ament and Tony Clevenger traveled to Kuala Lumper, Malaysia in April to present at the Road Ecology – Transportation Infrastructure and Wildlife Conservation Workshop. Co-sponsored by WTI, Association of Consulting Engineers – Malaysia (ACEM), ERE Consulting, the Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, the main goal of the workshop was to encourage discussions between wildlife practitioners and engineers that will lead to innovative solutions that enhance both transportation networks and wildlife conservation efforts. Rob and Tony spoke on effective wildlife mitigation measures in North America, such as wildlife crossings, and how they may be applicable to large species in Malaysia, which include both elephants and tigers. One of the highlights of was a field trip to Royal Belum State Park, via houseboat!
The workshop also provided an opportunity to hold the kick-off meeting for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Asian Elephant Transport Working Group, under the auspices of its Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group. “It was our first face-to-face meeting and the 10 members put together a work plan for the next year,” said Rob, who serves on the working group.
WTI’s decades of research on wildlife crossing structures received a very prestigious “shout out” last week – a feature article by National Geographic. “How wildlife bridges over highways make animals—and people—safer” describes how these structures have led to major reductions in the number of collisions between animals and vehicles, specifically mentioning the structures in Banff National Park, which WTI Road Ecologist Tony Clevenger has studied for more than 17 years. The article also cites WTI’s key 2009 study that documented the specific costs of wildlife-vehicle collisions and the cost effectiveness of mitigation options, which was led by Marcel Huijser. Both Tony and Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament were interviewed and quoted in the article.
The National Park Service (NPS) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have partnered with the Western Transportation Institute – Montana State University (WTI) to develop a federal lands wildlife-vehicle collision (WVC) data collection system. This system is being designed to efficiently and effectively collect information on large animal – vehicle crashes, to address motorist safety concerns on federal land management agency (FLMA) roads, as well as carcass data of medium- and smaller-sized fauna relevant to FLMAs’ conservation missions. This project offers user-friendly tools to collect and manage data key for analyses identifying specific areas where measures may be used to reduce WVCs on roads in National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges.
Phase 1 of the project entailed developing “ROaDS” (Roadkill Observation and Data System) as a mobile device application (an “app” for smart phones and tablets) for collecting WVC data in the field. In this Phase 2 project, the research team will continue development of the application, by developing data standards and refining the data collection fields that will be incorporated into the next version of the app. The final system will help agencies identify and monitor locations where wildlife vehicle collisions occur, and facilitate the planning and implementation of transportation, conservation, and safety efforts on federal lands.
Project Title and Webpage: Federal Lands Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Data Coordination Project Phase 2
Animal-vehicle collisions (AVCs) are a threat to both humans and wildlife, and they have an economic cost to society. PLOS ONE has published a study by WTI researcher Marcel Huijser and his international research partners that documents the impacts of AVCs in São Paulo State, Brazil. Based on the findings, the research team estimates that there are 2611 AVCs each year, and more than 18% of them result in human injuries or fatalities. The total annual cost to society is approximately $25 million. The study also includes policy and management recommendations for reducing AVCs and enhancing safety.
Citation: Abra F.D., B.M. Granziera, M.P. Huijser, K.M.P.M.d.B. Ferraz, C.M. Haddad, R.M. Paolino. 2019. Pay or prevent? Human safety, costs to society and legal perspectives on animal-vehicle collisions in São Paulo state, Brazil. PLoSONE 14(4):e0215152. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215152
Congratulations to two of our hardworking graduate students who have taken important steps over the last few weeks to earn their advanced degrees.
The Center for Health and Safety Culture’s (CHSC) doctorate student, Jubaer Ahmed, presented his Ph.D. comprehensive exam presentation on March 26, entitled, “Emotional Intelligence and Risky Driving Behavior.” His research addresses risky driving behavior among different populations from the perspective of emotional intelligence. Jubaer passed his presentation and will continue with the project in collaboration with his advisor, Nic Ward.
Matt Bell presented and passed his thesis defense for his Masters in Civil Engineering on April 3. His thesis focuses on “An Investigation Modeling the Risk of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in the State of Montana.” Matt’s research advisor is WTI’s Yiyi Wang and he also works closely with WTI Road Ecology researchers on projects including an international workshop on new designs for wildlife crossing structures.
The expertise of WTI researchers is in high demand for research collaborations, presentations, and academic exchanges around the world. “Where in the World is WTI?” will periodically feature partnerships and forums that showcase the growing international scope of our work.
WHERE: Kruger National Park, South Africa
WHO: Rob Ament, Road Ecologist
WHY: African Conference for Linear Infrastructure and Ecology
WTI Road Ecologist Rob Ament traveled to South Africa last week with colleagues Sandra Jacobson and Terry McGuire to present a workshop on how transportation, energy and mining sectors can mainstream biodiversity provisions within linear transportation. The workshop was one component of the African Conference for Linear Infrastructure and Ecology. They also presented a poster based on a recently published paper on transportation infrastructure investment in sub-Saharan Africa.
Rob’s work in Africa has expanded over the last few years, in part through his position as the co-chair of the Transport Working Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. At the conference last week, he also gave an individual presentation entitled “Biodiversity-friendly surface transportation infrastructure: A global overview,” based on the recent activities of the working group.
WTI has released a new report investigating Key Deer mortality along a segment of Highway 1 within the National Key Deer Refuge in Florida. Road Ecologists Marcel Huijser and James Begley found that 75% of all reported mortalities in this area were related to collisions with vehicles. The team also investigated and mapped how the locations of collision “hotspots” have changed since the installation of wildlife fencing, underpasses, and deer guards. The final report (“Exploration of opportunities to reduce Key Deer Mortality along US Highway 1 and other roads, National Key Deer Refuge, Florida, USA”) summarizes the pros and cons of eight different strategies aimed at reducing collisions with Key Deer on Highway 1.
The National Key Deer Refuge final report is now available on the WTI website. This research effort is part of a technical support contract for National Wildlife Refuges, which encompasses projects at refuges across the country.
Final 7! On Friday, March 1, the MSU College of Engineering hosted the finals of its Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. Road Ecology Graduate Student Matt Bell was one of seven finalists vying for best presentation of their thesis research in only 180 seconds, using only one slide. Matt’s presentation, “Modeling Risk of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions,” focuses on his research with mentor Dr. Yiyi Wang to develop a real-time risk model that alerts drivers of areas with higher risk of collisions with large animals.
Three Minute Thesis is a research communication competition developed by the University of Queensland in Australia (www.threeminutethesis.org). It encourages graduate students to develop their presentation skills and learn how to explain complex concepts to general audiences. More than 200 universities in the U.S. now participate.
WTI Road Ecologists Marcel Huijser and James Begley have completed recommendations for reducing wildlife road mortalities on highways that serve two national wildlife refuges along the coast of Virginia. “Exploration of Wildlife Mitigation Measures for the Roads through and around Fisherman Island and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuges in Virginia,” now available on the WTI website, includes specific recommendations for enhancing barriers, culverts, fencing and other methods to reduce vehicle collisions with several species of concern, including the diamondback terrapin (turtle) and the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel.