Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Increased human development and expansion has led to an ever-growing transportation network, which has both direct and indirect ecological impacts to local wildlife populations. In response, wildlife crossing structures have become an increasingly fundamental component of wildlife conservation throughout the United States. The focus of this study was a 13.5 km section of US Highway 395, Mono County, California. The California Department of Transportation recently identified this section of highway, hereafter known as the Mammoth Wildlife Crossing, as the highest priority location for wildlife crossing structures along US 395 within Mono County. The goal of this study was to use a multiple data source approach to identify successful and unsuccessful mule deer crossing locations within the project area and provide recommendations to Caltrans for crossing structure locations. To meet this goal, specific objectives included: (1) Conduct standardized roadside carcass counts that record the locations of mule deer involved in deer-vehicle-collision; (2) Create a heatmap of recorded locations that identifies segments of US 395 where collisions occur with the highest frequency; (3) Use GPS telemetry data from collared mule deer to model successful highway crossings in relation to surrounding environmental factors; (4) Evaluate the correspondents between outputs from the hot spot analysis results from our predictive model to examine the spatial relationship between successful and unsuccessful crossings. Results from our analysis identified three potential locations for wildlife crossings, that could be invaluable additions to US 395 to reduce wildlife mortality, restore and maintain necessary habitat connectivity for migratory mule deer, and most importantly, create a safer roadway for motorists.
Taylor, Daniel P., "Quantifying the Impacts and Assessing the Permeability of a Divided Four-Lane Highway on Migratory Mule Deer" (2023). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Spring 1920 to Summer 2023. 8878.
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