Budget-Friendly Strategies for Ecological Connectivity: The Wildlife Crossing Guards Approach

by Klaus Müller
Ecological Connectivity

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.
DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.22456

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.

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JohnDoe12 July 11, 2023 - 9:57 pm

wow, this is really cool! i never knew you could do that with wildlife management and land-use planning. great job by the oak ridge national lab team. their model sounds super useful and budget-friendly.

EcoWarrior123 July 11, 2023 - 10:01 pm

finally, someone is showing that development and the environment can go hand in hand. we need more projects like this that consider wildlife and ecology. good on ORNL for their research and data-driven approach.

ScienceGeek23 July 12, 2023 - 12:35 am

science ftw! it’s awesome to see researchers using decades of data to develop practical solutions. this study shows the power of data-driven decision making in wildlife management. can’t wait to read more studies like this one!

WildlifeEnthusiast July 12, 2023 - 10:56 am

as a wildlife enthusiast, this makes my heart happy. it’s crucial to ensure ecological connectivity for the well-being of our wildlife. i hope more people pay attention to the importance of conservation buffers and open-bottom culverts.

NatureLover87 July 12, 2023 - 2:44 pm

omg, this is so important! the four-toed salamander and other endangered species need our help. i’m glad they found affordable ways to protect their habitats. kudos to the scientists and facility managers for working together on this!


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