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University of Colorado at Boulder

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation

Abstract

In a world of ever increasing globalization and urbanization, roads present wildlife with a number of challenges. They fragment habitats, disrupt animal movements, impact reproductive success and the fitness of individuals and populations, alter population dynamics, and cause unnatural levels of mortality. Fortunately, the numerous detrimental effects of roads can be alleviated by the proper implementation of mitigation structures, such as underpasses, sky bridges and vegetated overpasses. These mitigation structures are an important source of genetic connectivity, especially in a peri-urban reserve setting. This study seeks to understand what species of mammal utilize the wildlife underpasses below Via La Amistad, a road that divides Parque Natural Metropolitano from Camino de Cruces, and how frequently they do so. Mud traps were implemented within the tunnels and at two control locations. A species composition list was created, along with frequency and relative abundance index values for species by site, overall species, and overall sites. Seven species of mammals were detected at the study sites, six of which were present at the tunnel sites. Number of individuals observed per day at the study locations showed a significant difference between the sites. Relative abundance index values and frequency calculations did not yield significant results. D. punctata (Central American Agouti) and D. marsupialis (Common Opossum) had the two highest relative abundance and frequency values at the tunnel sites, while P. semispinosus (Tomes’ Spiny Rat) and D. novemcinctus (Nine-banded Armadillo) were equally present at the controls. The baseline results of this study imply that wildlife underpasses have some success at providing genetic connectivity between fragmented habitats. Additional studies should be conducted to further expand upon and confirm the results from this study. If more extensive road ecology research is conducted and road mitigation structures are implemented, both around Parque Natural Metropolitano and in the Neotropics, the negative impacts of roads on wildlife can be decreased.

Disciplines

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy

 

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