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Posts Tagged ‘habitat fragmentation’

Puzzle Pieces: Connecting Habitat for New Jersey’s Wildlife

Friday, February 5th, 2016
Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) and Strategic Habitat Conservation

by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

In New Jersey and throughout the world, almost every ecosystem is under some degree of disturbance caused by human impact. In particular, urbanization and deforestation often have negative consequences on ecosystems because they typically lead to overall habitat loss. A reduction in available habitat creates habitat fragmentation, where an ecosystem becomes segmented and broken apart. Habitat fragmentation can have multiple negative effects on wildlife, including dispersal, genetic isolation, and community structure impacts. Here in New Jersey, wildlife species are up against steady urbanization and a dense network of roads compromising the connectivity of habitat and wildlife populations. Today, the state of New Jersey remains the most densely populated state in the country occupying about 39,000 miles of public roads.

Connectivity is vital for wildlife. Different color habitat patches represent different resources essential for survival. Lines represent possible corridors connecting patches.

Connectivity is vital for wildlife. Different color habitat patches represent different resources essential for survival. Lines represent possible corridors connecting patches.

In order to maintain diversity and sustain healthy wildlife populations, we must connect various fragmented habitats and wildlife communities. Animals need to be able to move through the landscape to find food, shelter, mates, and other resources. Without that ability to move, healthy populations cannot persist over the long term. In order to curb the effects of roads and habitat fragmentation, wildlife road crossing structures can be installed to reduce wildlife road mortality. In addition, wildlife habitat corridors can be prioritized for land management, restoration and acquisition.

Wildlife Crossing Tunnels like this along with fencing reduce wildlife road mortality ©Kelly Triece

Wildlife Crossing Tunnels like this along with fencing reduce wildlife road mortality © Kelly Triece

What is New Jersey doing to create habitat connectivity for our state’s diverse wildlife?

Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) was formed in 2012 by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, with the vision of making our landscape and roadways more permeable to wildlife movement. CHANJ represents a blueprint for strategic habitat conservation that will identify key areas and the actions needed for preserving and restoring habitat connectivity for terrestrial wildlife in New Jersey. CHANJ has the potential to increase the sustainability of New Jersey’s terrestrial wildlife populations and de-list endangered species. Connecting populations of wildlife will improve gene flow and allow wildlife to move freely throughout the landscape.

 

How can you help?

  • Be mindful of wildlife while driving: Peak wildlife crossing season occurs in the spring and summer as wildlife travel to find food and mates. If wildlife such as amphibians and turtles are on the road, safely pull over and carry them to the shoulder in their direction of travel. Always be mindful of safety and do not attempt to handle any wildlife if you are not comfortable.
  • Create wildlife friendly backyard habitats: learn more on Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s website.

 

Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.