Mitigating Road Corridor Habitat Connectivity Barriers for Increased Terrestrial Ecosystem Climate Change Resilience: a pilot project in Vermont

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Paul Marangelo

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Maintaining and restoring regional-scale habitat connectivity is a frequently cited strategy for promoting climate adaptation for terrestrial biodiversity, as many taxa will need to respond to anthropogenic warming by attempting large scale range expansions across a network of connected habitats otherwise intersected and fragmented by road corridors and associated land uses. The Staying Connected Initiative (SCI) has worked since 2009 to address landscape-scale connectivity conservation needs across the bi-national Acadian/Northern Appalachian ecoregion by developing multiple approaches to conserve a network of connected habitat. In Vermont, SCI is now increasingly focused on implementing on-the-ground connectivity restoration projects, both to ameliorate road corridor fragmentation to increase terrestrial climate resilience and connectedness and, with a primarily focus on wide-ranging terrestrial species, improve individual-level habitat access needs. Towards this end, SCI has initiated a pilot project to enhance/restore connectivity across a busy state highway in Vermont. By combining site-scale road infrastructure modification with habitat restoration techniques such as reforestation, wetland creation/restoration, and hedgerow planting , the project seeks to 1) restore site-scale connectivity across a road corridor through habitat enhancement and modification of existing bridges and culverts; and 2) incorporate additional values (flood resilience and water quality) to engender broad-based project support amongst interested local parties. Relying on a novel integration of theory from a coarse filter terrestrial climate change resilience framework with site-scale taxa-oriented project design considerations, the project demonstrates an approach to ameliorate connectivity fragmentation from road-corridors to better connect habitat networks capable of supporting climate-related range expansion needs of multiple taxa.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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