Photo Credit: Josiane Segar
I am currently juggling working as a seasonal ecologist at Jacobs whilst finishing my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh. I have always been interested in environmental issues but it was the two summers that I spent living next to a wild bison herd at America Prairie Reserve (APR) that gave me my wildlife focus.
Investigating barriers to movement and migration of ungulates across the Great Plains of N America.
My thesis is examining the effect that fencing has on the ability for wild ungulates to move and migrate safely across Montana. Fencing was introduced by homesteaders as they colonised the west in the 19th century and has become a ubiquitous part of the landscape, whilst contributing to the fragmentation of this ecosystem. Barbed and woven wire fencing is thought to cause severe truncation of migratory pathways, as well as cause high levels of injury and mortality among these species.
Barbed and woven wire fencing is thought to cause high levels of injury and mortality among wild ungulates.
I am using camera trap data to try to understand whether these negative impacts may be mitigated through the use of wildlife-friendly fencing and have spent the last two field seasons working for the APR helping to collect this data.
The long-term goal of the project is to improve the permeability of such barriers to wildlife in the area, whilst encouraging surrounding private landowners to do the same. In doing so, connectivity of large-scale habitat may be improved in an area where between 76-82% of native grassland has been lost.
For more information on the project: http://www.adventurescience.org/field-notes/american-prairie-reserve-working-at-the-forefront-of-conservation-design