Introduction to Wildlife Corridors

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Wildlife corridors are also known as habitat corridors or green corridors. These wildlife areas are designed to keep local migratory animal species from the encroaching human populations in areas of high interaction between the two. These green corridors are also designed to keep animals out of danger of highways, busy roads, and other areas where their traditional migratory patterns intersect with potential dangerous manmade places.

Wildlife habits and migration are studied in order to determine where the best place for wildlife corridors to be. The migratory habits of animals such as deer, elk, moose, bears, mountain goats, lizards, tortoises, sheep, and more are assisted by the wildlife corridors, which allow these animals to pass over or under roads and other manmade obstacles to keep them safe and their territory somewhat intact.

Types of Wildlife Corridors

There are two types of corridors, although many different kinds of ways in which these corridors can be built. There are continuous corridors, which are large, unbroken strips of green corridor that lead to another habitat, and stepping stone corridors, which are small patches of habitat that are connected by smaller green corridors. Migration can therefore be conducted despite the kinds of human activity in the area. Corridors can be underpasses or bridges; from the few studies that have been done, animals have been shown to prefer underpasses as it keeps them unseen by the chaos of traffic or humans above.

An overpass to a freeway functioning as a wildlife corridor.

An overpass to a freeway functioning as a wildlife corridor.

Benefits of Wildlife Corridors

While much research goes into the study of animal migration and which animals will benefit the most from these green corridors, not much is known about the results of these corridors when it comes to preserving the natural lifestyles and habitats of local species. The positive benefits of wildlife corridors are keeping animals off busy roads, where they can endanger themselves and drivers when attempting to cross. Allowing the safe passage of animals along wildlife coworkers diminishes the human impact on local species as well as preserves their traditional habitat, making sure populations of animals are able to expand and increase genetic diversity. Wildlife corridors can also assist in re-establishing animal populations that are in danger or diminished because of human or natural events. Wildlife corridors also help mitigate the effects of habitat fragmentation caused by the expanse of human development.

Wildlife corridor for herpetofauna.

Wildlife corridor for herpetofauna which helps migrating reptiles and amphibians avoid unfriendly fields and roads. Source: NRCS.

Wildlife corridors also help keep wild animals out of urban areas, allowing for the safe coexistence of animals and humans. Allowing people and animals to go about their lives around each other keeps the space sacred for both parties. These corridors also give scientists the chance to research migratory patterns and potentially better ways to treat the wild animals in the midst of urban centers.

Concerns About Wildlife Corridors

The negative aspects of wildlife corridors are the lack of funding because of the lack of research into the actual benefits of these corridors. Many organizations involved in spreading the world about wildlife corridors find it hard to generate a response. Wildlife corridors often need to be built towards a specific animal population which can decrease their efficiency in the grand scheme of conservation. A big horned sheep, for instance, might not cross a wildlife corridor built for that area’s bear population even though its migratory habits are similar. As many wildlife corridors intersect busy roads or places where a lot of humans are, many species shy away from the area. Corridors also need to be built very wide to maintain the wilderness effect, but this land is very hard to get approved for usage as a wildlife corridor in some cases. They also must maintain the same habitat as the areas the animals call home, or crossing will seem unnatural to the animals using the corridor. Unfortunately these corridors often allow for the safe passage of invasive species of flora and fauna which can drastically change the ecosystem of a nearby area that was once inaccessible.

More study needs to be conducted on specific animal migratory patterns as well as the overall benefits of these corridors in order to know if they are truly worth the cost of building and maintaining. In the meantime the existing corridors should be taken care of and used as stepping stones for the future of localized animal conservation.

One organization that is campaigning for the future of wildlife conservation is the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Activists for the Florida Wildlife Corridor are on a journey to raise awareness for the potential for a state-wide corridor spanning parts of the American South. Their work has already allowed for corridors to be built in the Florida Everglades and they hope to continue their work for animal species around Florida, Georgia, Alabama and elsewhere in the region.

References

Kaushik. Amusing Planet. Wildlife Crossings Around the World. 10 July 2012. http://www.amusingplanet.com/2012/07/wildlife-crossings-around-world.html

Wikipedia. Wildlife Corridor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildlife_corridor

Florida Wildlife Corridor. The Journey Continues. 2014. http://www.floridawildlifecorridor.org/

Further Reading

Rabinowitz, Alan (April 2010). “A range-wide model of landscape connectivity and conservation for the jaguar, Panthera onca”. Biological Conservation 143 (4): 939–945.doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2010.01.002.