DENTON (UNT), Texas – A University of North Texas professor is teaming up with 10 other countries to definitively answer whether conservation corridors work to increase natural land availability for wildlife.
Conservation corridors, small linear swaths of natural vegetation connecting two or more reserve areas like parks, marshes and natural lands, are used with the intention of offering bigger land options for native wildlife. These corridors can create paths for wildlife over busy roadways or around building developments.
“We've been spending millions of dollars since the 1970s, but the corridors’ functionality is entirely based on empirical models and intuitiveness,” said Andrew Gregory, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. “There's not really any quantitative data to suggest they work.”
Funded by a joint grant from the UK National Environmental Research Council and the U.S. National Science Foundation, the study uses wildlife and DNA to track movement across multiple reserved areas and includes a multinational collaboration with representatives from Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Poland, Kenya, Columbia, and the United Kingdom. The four-year study will last through 2024.
“We've identified a set of landscapes with corridors that have been around for a long time,” Gregory said. “We're measuring gene flow and occupancy patterns on each side, to see whether or not these corridors are working as advertised.”