Conservation Science Partners Truckee

Science, United States

Conservation Science Partners Truckee

Science, United States
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Sadoti G.,University of Nevada, Reno | Gray M.E.,Conservation Science Partners Truckee | Farnsworth M.L.,Conservation Science Partners Truckee | Dickson B.G.,Northern Arizona University
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2017

Changes to animal movement in response to human-induced changes to the environment are of growing concern in conservation. Most research on this problem has focused on terrestrial endotherms, but changes to herpetofaunal movement are also of concern given their limited dispersal abilities and specialized thermophysiological requirements. Animals in the desert region of the southwestern United States are faced with environmental alterations driven by development (e.g., solar energy facilities) and climate change. Here, we study the movement ecology of a desert species of conservation concern, the Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). We collected weekly encounter locations of marked desert tortoises during the active (nonhibernation) seasons in 2013-2015, and used those data to discriminate movements among activity centers from those within them. We then modeled the probability of movement among activity centers using a suite of covariates describing characteristics of tortoises, natural and anthropogenic landscape features, vegetation, and weather. Multimodel inference indicated greatest support for a model that included individual tortoise characteristics, landscape features, and weather. After controlling for season, date, age, and sex, we found that desert tortoises were more likely to move among activity centers when they were further from minor roads and in the vicinity of barrier fencing; we also found that movement between activity centers was more common during periods of greater rainfall and during periods where cooler temperatures coincided with lower rainfall. Our findings indicate that landscape alterations and climate change both have the potential to impact movements by desert tortoises during the active season. This study provides an important baseline against which we can detect future changes in tortoise movement behavior. © 2017 Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Mcclure M.L.,Conservation Science Partners Truckee | Dickson B.G.,Conservation Science Partners Truckee | Nicholson K.L.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2017

This study sought to identify critical areas for puma (Puma concolor) movement across the state of Arizona in the American Southwest and to identify those most likely to be impacted by current and future human land uses, particularly expanding urban development and associated increases in traffic volume. Human populations in this region are expanding rapidly, with the potential for urban centers and busy roads to increasingly act as barriers to demographic and genetic connectivity of large-bodied, wide-ranging carnivores such as pumas, whose long-distance movements are likely to bring them into contact with human land uses and whose low tolerance both for and from humans may put them at risk unless opportunities for safe passage through or around human-modified landscapes are present. Brownian bridge movement models based on global positioning system collar data collected during bouts of active movement and linear mixed models were used to model habitat quality for puma movement; then, a wall-to-wall application of circuit theory models was used to produce a continuous statewide estimate of connectivity for puma movement and to identify pinch points, or bottlenecks, that may be most at risk of impacts from current and future traffic volume and expanding development. Rugged, shrub- and scrub-dominated regions were highlighted as those offering high quality movement habitat for pumas, and pinch points with the greatest potential impacts from expanding development and traffic, although widely distributed, were particularly prominent to the north and east of the city of Phoenix and along interstate highways in the western portion of the state. These pinch points likely constitute important conservation opportunities, where barriers to movement may cause disproportionate loss of connectivity, but also where actions such as placement of wildlife crossing structures or conservation easements could enhance connectivity and prevent detrimental impacts before they occur. © 2017.

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