Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have conceived a budget-friendly model that enhances ecological connectivity by integrating wildlife management into land-use planning, with a focus on the Oak Ridge Reservation. The approach employs conservation tactics like buffers and open-bottom culverts, leveraging three decades of data from the reservation.
Crafting More Sustainable Habitats on Supervised Lands
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have constructed a model framework to pinpoint strategies that allow wildlife to traverse their habitats safely without significantly disrupting infrastructure.
The project was based on the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee, a 32,000-acre area housing Department of Energy facilities and various endangered species such as the four-toed salamander.
The team located habitats and ran simulations for solutions like conservation buffers and open-bottom culverts to provide safe travel corridors for salamanders and other wildlife. These solutions are much less expensive than major barrier removals and similarly enhance ecological connectivity.
The four-toed salamander, Hemidactylium scutatum, is one of the endangered species inhabiting the Oak Ridge Reservation. Scientists and facility managers collaborated to develop a framework that suggests affordable strategies to conserve habitats for the salamander and other aquatic and terrestrial creatures. Image Credit: Bryce Wade/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
“Economic development and environmental sustainability aren’t mutually exclusive,” stated ORNL’s Evin Carter. “Our cooperative effort with project managers and engineers demonstrates that wildlife management can be seamlessly integrated into land-use planning without additional costs or delays.”
Bryce Wade, an ORNL doctoral candidate, noted that the model also gained from the availability of 30 years of high-resolution data owing to the reservation’s history and management as a National Environmental Research Park.
Citation: “Promoting wildlife connectivity in land use planning: a case study with four-toed salamanders” by Bryce S. Wade, Evin T. Carter, Christopher R. Derolph, Greg Byrd, Sarah E. Darling, Lindsey E. Hayter, R. Trent Jett, Jamie M. Herold and Neil R. Giffen, 20 June 2023, The Journal of Wildlife Management.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ecological Connectivity
What is the focus of the model developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory?
The focus of the model developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory is to promote ecological connectivity through wildlife management integrated into land-use planning.
What conservation measures are used in the model?
The model incorporates conservation measures such as buffers and open-bottom culverts to ensure safe passage for wildlife, particularly the four-toed salamander.
How does the model benefit from data?
The model benefits from 30 years of high-resolution data gathered from the Oak Ridge Reservation, which provides valuable insights and aids in developing effective solutions.
What is the significance of the model’s approach?
The model demonstrates that wildlife management can be seamlessly integrated into land-use planning without incurring excessive costs or delays, fostering a balance between development and environmental sustainability.
What endangered species are considered in the project?
The project specifically focuses on protecting habitats for the four-toed salamander, an at-risk species residing in the Oak Ridge Reservation. Additionally, it considers the well-being of other fish and wildlife in the area.
More about Ecological Connectivity
- Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Official Website
- The Journal of Wildlife Management: Article
- Oak Ridge Reservation: Information