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Conserving the Connections: A Nationwide Inventory of State-Based Habitat Connectivity Analysis

  • Author(s): Feinberg, Jesse
  • et al.
Abstract

Habitat fragmentation is among the most serious threats to species and biological diversity. Highways can divide wildlife habitat into smaller patches, reducing or prohibiting necessary wildlife movement between core habitat areas for foraging, mating, and other life functions.

Defenders of Wildlife reviewed all 50 states to identify those that are working to address habitat connectivity in the context of transportation planning. The goal of these plans is to facilitate interagency cooperation in order to enhance wildlife connectivity while continuing to expand and improve transportation infrastructure. We found that eleven states have completed, or are currently completing, a statewide habitat connectivity analysis, which will allow them to incorporate wildlife habitat and linkage needs into highway project planning. An additional eight other states are working on connectivity issues but on a regional scale or without a direct link to transportation planning.

This analysis provides a snapshot of the status of connectivity planning across the nation. By comparing lessons learned and successful methods, states considering connectivity planning can draw from the experience of others, while states with existing plans can use this information to improve as plans are updated.

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