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Identifying Conservation Corridors and Transboundary Linkage for Wolverines in the Canadian Crown of the Continent Ecosystem

Started: December, 2014 End Date: August, 2017 Project ID #4W5244 Status: Ongoing


The purpose of this research is to study wolverine occurrence and habitat connectivity in the Canadian Crown of the Continent (CCoC) using noninvasive methods.


The Canadian Crown of the Continent (CCoC), between Banff National Park and Glacier National Park at the US border, supports an assemblage of carnivores that is unique in North America for its intact diversity. Because of its particular geographic position, the CCoC also represents one of the most strategically important regions in maintaining ecological connectivity for carnivores and other wildlife in the Great Northern Landscape.  This region has been identified as crucial for wolverines north of the US border to supply individuals and genes through dispersal to the highly fragmented population in the northern US Rocky Mountains. However, as motorized recreation, forest extraction and energy development rapidly expands across the region, bringing with them a burgeoning road network, this formerly large, intact landscape is becoming increasingly fragmented, posing a growing threat to the region’s ability to maintain ecological integrity and connectivity, and conserve ecological function and resilience. Transportation infrastructure, oil and gas exploration, and forestry are significant threats to wolverines. Until now, models using data from wolverines from the U.S. have been used to predict habitat use, travel corridors and connectivity among wolverine populations in the transboundary Crown of the Continent region. The most basic demographic and genetic information on southern Canadian wolverines is largely unknown. This is a cause for concern since wolverines are still legally harvested and their habitat is increasingly fragmented by Highway 3, recreational activity and resource extraction in this part of the species' range outside of national parks. Identifying dispersal corridors for maintaining connectivity within in the transboundary region in the southern Canadian Rockies will be crucial for the long-term viability of wolverines in the contiguous US in face of a warming climate, increasing habitat loss and human pressure. This research will build on existing and ongoing camera and noninvasive genetic sampling occurring over the last 10 years that has been coordinated with provincial parks, national parks and research institutions in Alberta and BC. The proposed research is the second year of a 3-year project that will noninvasively survey wolverines in this largely unstudied and vitally important transboundary linkage region between the core protected areas of national parks (Banff, Yoho, Kootenay) in the north and national parks (Glacier, Waterton Lakes) to the south on the US border. This second year will consist of sampling approximately 75 sites in the province of Alberta, from Glacier National Park/US border north to Highway 3 in the Crowsnest Pass.


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Part of: Road Ecology, Wildlife

Project Tagged In: wildlife connectivity, habitats

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