Conservation groups – including the National Wildlife Federation, Save L.A. Cougars, and ARC (Animal Road Crossings) – marked Wildlife Crossings Week (May 4 – 8) by hosting a series of webinars on current efforts around the world to enhance habitat connectivity. Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament led a session on “Improving Ecological Connectivity: the IUCN’s Transport Working Group,” highlighting his collaborative work with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Rob’s full presentation is available to view on the event’s Facebook page.
Did you miss the Earth Optimism Summit hosted by the Smithsonian last month? It also showcased successful conservation actions during a multi-day event. WTI Research Scientist Marcel Huijser led a workshop entitled “Road Ecology – are we taking the right turns?” His presentation is now available to view at on the Summit website.
This summer, WTI welcomed two new researchers who will provide multi-disciplinary expertise and support across several program areas.
MatthewBell is a new Research Associate, but his connection to WTI dates back to 2012 when he worked on a Road Ecology project with one of Marcel Huijser’s grad students in Missoula, Montana. In 2017, while pursuing grad studies at MSU, he began research with Rob Ament to design wildlife crossing structures from fiber-reinforced polymers. He also conducted his thesis research on modeling the risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions on Montana roads, under the guidance of Dr. Yiyi Wang. Now at WTI full-time, Matt will continue with research on designing crossing structures from fiber-reinforced polymers. He will also assist with projects to test the use of wool products for erosion control and to evaluate friction performance measurement as a winter maintenance strategy.
Raised in Florida and California, Matt has lived in Montana for nine years. He earned his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana in Missoula and his M.S. in Civil Engineering at Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman. Outside of WTI, he loves backpacking and trail running, with his energetic dog Pi usually leading the way.
Danae Giannetti has joined WTI as a Research Engineer, focusing on projects for the Small Urban, Rural, and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM). Initially, she will assist with a new transit feasibility study in rural Arkansas, the pop-up neighborhood traffic calming program in Bozeman, and bike/pedestrian technical assistance projects. For the last three years, she served as a Civil Engineering Specialist at the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) MSU Design Unit where she designed roadway projects and mentored MSU undergraduate students on the road design process. (If she looks familiar, the MDT/MSU Design Unit office is in the WTI building!)
Danae came to Montana nine years ago from northeast Florida to study at MSU Bozeman. She earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering and is a licensed Professional Engineer. When not at work, she loves to travel, garden and hang out with her husband and two dogs. An avid biker, she is active in the Pedal Project for local mountain biking and serves on the Bozeman Area Bicycle Advisory Board.
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.
Last week, Marcel Huijser opened the 2018 Australasian Network for Ecology and Transportation (ANET) Conference, in Melbourne, Australia with a keynote address entitled “Road Ecology – Are We Taking the Right Turns?” The Conference, co-hosted by the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand in Victoria, explored the theme “Connecting nature, connecting people.” Marcel also participated in a panel discussion of how technology and innovation influence transportation ecology research and practice, as well as field trips to view local road ecology projects. A profile of his work on animal detection systems, habitat connectivity, and of his role as a visiting professor in Brazil was featured on the conference website.
Research Scientist Marcel Huijser, of WTI’s Road Ecology program, will travel to Australia at the end of April for the 2018 Conference of the Australasian Network for Ecology and Transportation (ANET). Marcel has been invited to deliver the keynote address, entitled “Road Ecology – Are We Taking the Right Turns?” at the plenary session on the opening day of the conference.
ANET is a professional network dedicated to the research, design and implementation of environmentally-sensitive infrastructure across Australasia (Australia, New Zealand, and neighboring islands). Serving government, industry, scientists and community groups, ANET’s international conferences aim to share global best practices for identifying and mitigating the ecological impacts of all types of linear infrastructure and transport, including road, rail, pipelines and utility easements.
WTI Research Scientist Marcel Huijser was on the road in February, speaking at two major regional wildlife events in Colorado and California. On February 8, he was invited to give the keynote address (“Road Ecology, are we taking the right turns?”) at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Colorado Chapter of the Wildlife Society. On February 21, he spoke at the “Bridges and Biology” workshop hosted by the California Department of Transportation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). At this event, Marcel led a workshop session called “National and International Perspectives,” which focused on wildlife usage of crossing structures, including how to increase their effectiveness.
To learn more about Marcel’s research, visit the Road Ecology webpage.
In February, Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament participated in a five day Road Ecology workshop in Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, entitled “Capacity Building in Designing Mitigation Measures along Linear Infrastructure in Tiger Landscapes.” Rob gave seven presentations at the event, where attendees from India, Nepal, and the U.S. gathered for three days of talks and two days of field trips to central India highway, railway and canal mitigation locations. The week was hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Trust and co-sponsored by Global Tiger Forum and the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of International Programs. Rob also had the opportunity to view other protected species, including rhinos and elephants.
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.