We recently wrote about an agreement that sets aside migration corridors for monarch butterflies to help them travel safely. These corridors involve long strips of plant-rich land to offer food and shelter for endangered monarchs, but butterflies aren’t the only species that rely on safe migration passageways. Researchers from the University of Oregon’s InfoGraphics Lab are developing a mapping system that will help mammals all around the world migrate safely.
The research is focused on the migration patterns of ungulates, hoofed mammals like caribou, mule deer, wildebeest, elephants, and zebra. These animals rely on safe migration passages to travel throughout the seasons and also help rejuvenate the land they pass over as they go. Unfortunately, ungulate species are disappearing at an alarming rate, and the lack of safe migration routes is a primary culprit.
To address this, the Oregon team has used spatial data to map out precise routes taken by these animals. These maps offer a blueprint which governments and developers can use to best integrate human infrastructure with the natural environment.
Some primary threats to migration patterns include oil and gas leasing, highways, and housing developments, but understanding exactly where these animals travel can help us build these projects away from migration routes. So far, the maps have been successful in helping protect ungulate species in both Wyoming and across the world in the plains of Serengeti.
This is not the only initiative using mapping to further conservation efforts. In Nepal, a similar strategy is being employed to build roads that do not interfere with wild tiger habitats.