Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Preserving Mass wildlife: linking landscapes - Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Posted by Tim Dexter, MassDOT Environmental Analyst

Transportation infrastructure affects wildlife through direct mortality due to vehicle collisions, fragmenting and isolating habitats, and by altering natural habitats. In addition, roadway usage by wildlife causes accidents, which can result in property damage and personal injury. To address these issues, the MassDOT Highway Division has teamed up with MassWildlife, UMass Amherst, and the Vernal Pool Association to create ‘Linking Landscapes’, a long-term and multifaceted effort to minimize the impact of the existing road network on wildlife, while improving highway safety.

The Linking Landscapes research framework is simple: team up with citizen scientists to gather information on wildlife roadway mortality hotspots, to inform long term planning decisions in the context of transportation infrastructure upgrades. A critical component to the research is a user friendly online mapping interface where the general public, state highway personnel and law enforcement can document site specific wildlife mortality observations.

I was pleased to lead a discussion about turtle mortality with representatives from communities in the watersheds of the Sudbury, Assabet, Concord and Shawsheen Rivers, above. My thanks to Sylvia Willard of the Carlisle Conservation Commission for the photo.

How can you get involved? Three statewide citizen science research efforts are underway:

The Wildlife Roadway Mortality Database: Document your observations of wildlife deceased due to wildlife vehicle collisions.

The Vernal Pool Salamander Migration Study: During early spring rain events, mole salamanders migrate from their upland hibernating habitat to vernal pools to reproduce. Often, hibernating habitat and vernal pools are separated by roadways, which causes roadway mortality. Be on the look out for large ‘over the road’ salamander migrations in early spring, and record the locations within the Amphibian Roadway Crossing Database.

The Turtle Roadway Mortality Study: Turtles have existed for millions of years, but roadways are threatening the survival of local populations. Turtles in Massachusetts often cross roadways late spring to early fall. Keep your eyes peeled as you drive by wetland areas, and record your observations of turtle roadway mortality. The information gathered will be used to coordinate local turtle conservation efforts.

Get involved and find more information on the web.

Source: Article Ant

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