Bridging the Gap: Attempting to Increase Landscape Connectivity Using Wildlife Corridors in the Lost Pines Ecological Area of Texas




Prather, James P.

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Infrastructure development continues to increase to keep pace with the growth and expansion of human populations. Core infrastructure, such as roads, results in wildlife mortality and continued fragmentation of available habitat. Artificial wildlife corridors are a potential solution to mitigating wildlife-motorist collisions and maintaining habitat connectivity. Such structures are components toward conservation stewardship of both species and landscapes. The Lost Pines region is home to the endemic, and endangered, Houston Toad. These structures serve as mitigation efforts to allow the Houston Toad and other wildlife a safe passage among habitat patches despite barriers to dispersal. Highway 290 in Bastrop County bisects critical habitat of the endangered Houston Toad. Wildlife corridors have now been installed at locations based on previous data indicating areas of high wildlife traffic. Our study applies a suite of monitoring techniques to determine usage of artificial wildlife corridors along section the roadway. Monitoring techniques include camera trapping and wildlife mortality surveys (walking and driving). In order to determine usage of these corridors, camera traps were placed at the opening of each culvert. Wildlife mortality surveys along the roadway seek to determine areas of high density, and examine mortality densities post-installation of corridors. Preliminary analysis compared wildlife mortality observations found in the construction area during pre-construction and during construction. These results show no difference in mortality observations between treatments. However, there is a significant difference in observations between survey methods (walking vs driving). Currently, there are no camera trap detections of wildlife utilizing the crossing structures at each location.



Road ecology, Wildlife biology, Corridors, Wildlife, Mitigation, Conservation, Management


Prather, J. P. (2017). <i>Bridging the gap: Attempting to increase landscape connectivity using wildlife corridors in the Lost Pines ecological area of Texas</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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