Wildlife Corridor 260 Lab Project
In this online lab I will be creating and analyzing a wildlife corridor. This online lab I will select a location and promote the building of a wildlife corridor. I will look at four main aspects of the wildlife corridor. First, it will look at the areas needed for the corridor and what human development has or will occur to cause the need. Second, it will discuss the animals the corridor will serve and what it why it will help them. Third, it will discuss how the corridor will be built. Fourth, I will look at what needs to be done by us to insure the corridor works and lasts.
What is a Wildlife Corridor?
“Corridors are like a sidewalk for animals; they help them to get from one point to another,” says the wildlife conservation professor Richard Yahner of Penn State University. http://www.rps.psu.edu/probing/wildlifecorridors.html 3/13/12
A wildlife corridor is an area that connects two adjacent land pieces to each other that are separated because of some type of human development. Wildlife corridors provide many benefits to wildlife. They provide better opportunities for animals to find basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. Animals that need large roaming areas are able to access new habitats. Wildlife can move safely through areas without coming into contact with humans. Animals from different habitats can mate creating a healthy genetic biodiversity.
My Proposal for Wildlife Corridor 260
Picture taken from Goggle Earth 4/12/2012
Why a Corridor Here?
I have chosen two different habitats outside of Cottonwood, Arizona to establish a corridor. I feel this area could benefit from the formation of a wildlife corridor in order to link the habitat and insure local wildlife is not extirpated. The corridor I am proposing would connect the east side of Hwy 260 to the west side of HWY 260. Leaving Cottonwood heading toward Camp Verde the corridor would be located right after Steve Coury Automotive. The corridor would extend down the highway about 1 mile topography in this area is relatively flat. The west side habitat is comprised of naturally growing vegetation such as creosote bushes, cacti, sagebrush, wildflowers, and many other regional plants. This habitat has dense vegetation. The habitat on the east side however has an area of dense vegetation leading up to a ecotonal area with a wider variety of vegetation and then the Verde River where animals can attain water. This area has a much more abundant supply of vegetation consisting of rich grasses, cottonwood trees, and many other lush fauna. Both of these habitats are located outside of the town so the demographic is quite small and so the animals are almost entirely free of human disturbances except for the big highway that runs right through the middle creating a habitat fragmentation. This highway is the main connection from the Interstate 17 highway into Cottonwood. Cottonwood residents, tourists and semi-trucks that bring products in and out of Cottonwood travel hwy 260. . If my corridor was approved it would provide a safe landscape linkage for the animals.
What Animals Would This Corridor Help?
The HWY 260 Corridor would service a diverse species both umbrella and non-umbrella species. My target species that I would like to see use the corridor would be the Pecari tajacu or more commonly known as the javelina, the Lepus californicus or also known as the black-tailed jackrabbit and the Sylvilagus audubonii or desert cottontail.
Why Would this Corridor Strengthen These Species?
The highway is an impediment of movement at least safely for the animals in these habitats, the vehicles that travel this road drive over 65 mph and often encounter animal that are trying to cross the highway in order to obtain an abundance of water on the other side. Both of these species are primarily nocturnal but the javelina has very poor eyesight even so it is common to see them trying to cross the road where there is light pollution. This is one of many reasons why the corridor is essential to these species. Another reason is the ability to obtain food and water. Water is a temporal need essential for the survival of the javelina and even though the jackrabbit gets moister from cacti they travel several miles a day trying to find adequate food then returning to their core habitat. Water is a major abiotic component in this habitat and resides only on one side of the highway a corridor is needed to allow the animals safe passage to this commodity. This corridor would also allow the species to have genetic interchange with their species thus mitigating the risks associated with inbreeding.
Why is the So Necessary for the Animals to Cross the Road?
The freedom to roam, obtain food and reproduce will all be greatly increased with the completion of this wildlife corridor. It would also greatly increase the biodiversity in the area. Desert cottontail rabbits are preyed on by a large variety of animals like coyotes, snakes, and owls to name a few. If untimely deaths caused by automobiles were stopped then the rabbit would flourish reproduction would grow and attract other predatory species into the area. These species would need food and water and would follow the rabbits across the corridor. Those animals birthrate would then go up and a positive chain reaction would occur each new species would attract new predators and the land around the corridor would grow rich in wildlife. There will be one overhead corridor and one underground corridor spaces ½ mile apart in order to provide options for both predator and prey. The corridor would be built now large enough to handle animals of all sizes even though my target animals are relatively small. The corridors would also look like the surrounding landscape in order to encourage species to use the passageways.
This represents what Wildlife Corridor 260 would look like.
Wildlife Corridor 260 would consist of two passages over the highway one an overhead and one an underground passage. At this time there is human structures and I would make sure that the corridor extended back from the highway to the river on the east side and at least a mile on the west. I would also insure that building that might occur on the edges of the habitats would have conservation easements in order to limit edge effects. Both passageways would be covered in natural landscape in order to encourage animals to use the passages. I would also build a tall fence that would line the highway in order to lead the animals to safe passage through the corridors.
What Can The People around the Corridor Do To Help?
“It is vitally important that we identify and maintain habitat connectivity and migration corridors for fish and wildlife in response to the effects of climate change and other landscape level impacts on these critical resources.” said Gary Taylor, legislative director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2010/04/democrats-introduce-wildlife-corridors-conservation-act-help-wildlife-cope-climate-change5732 4/13/12
In order for the corridor to work correctly it must be maintained and managed properly. This also includes letting people in the area know why a corridor was built and explaining the need for their help to control the area around the corridor and report trespassers.
This campaign poster would be distributed to landowners around the corridor.
This lab project took a look at an area that boxed in wildlife and made me think about the animals involved and how a wildlife corridor could help them. Animals such as the javelina and the rabbit are not often thought of as major species but have a place in our environment in order to make it function. These animals especially rabbits bring biodiversity into our area through predator prey interaction. With out the corridor the area would not be as diverse.
The lab project showed me the work and time that goes into creating a wildlife corridor. I think that my corridor is small encompassing a spacial radius only a few square miles. I am amazed to think of the time put into planning and executing corridors such as the one I read about in National Geographic located in Turkey which covers 783,562 km2. (http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/13/turkeys-first-wildlife-corridor-links-bear-wolf-and-lynx-populations-to-the-caucasus-forests/ ) Small or large wildlife corridors are a necessity in many areas.
This Lab Project taught me a very valuable lesson. We need the highway in order to make our lives run safely and efficiently. I think if these species could talk they would tell us that the building of that highway endangered their lives and made it much more difficult to obtain the resources needed to flourish in this hot desert landscape. The corridor would make their lives safe and efficient again. I think that as we build we need to really take into account other species that share the earth with us and build in a way that we can all live happily together.