Resoring Habitat Permeability to Roaded Landscapes With Isometrically-Scaled Wildlife Crossings

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Biological Conservation





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Globally, human activities impact from one-third to one-half of the earth’s land surface; a major component of development involves the construction of roads. In the US and Europe, road networks fragment normal animal movement patterns, reduce landscape permeability, and increase wildlife-vehicle collisions, often with serious wildlife population and human health consequences. Critically, the placement of wildlife crossing structures to restore landscape connectivity and reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions has been a hit-or-miss proposition with little ecological underpinning, however recent important developments in allometric scaling laws can be used to guide their placement. In this paper, we used cluster analysis to develop domains of scale for mammalian species groups having similar vagility and developed metrics that reflect realistic species movement dynamics. We identified six home range area domains; three quarters of 102 species clustered in the three smallest domains. We used HR0.5 to represent a daily movement metric; when individual species movements were plotted against road mile markers, 71.2% of 72 species found in North America were included at distances of ⩽1 mi. The placement of wildlife crossings based on the HR0.5 metric, along with appropriate auxiliary mitigation, will re-establish landscape permeability by facilitating wildlife movement across the roaded landscape and significantly improve road safety by reducing wildlife vehicle collisions.

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