Collaborative Research: Landscape connectivity and the movement ecology of plant and animal communities

Project: Research project

Project Details


Movement is a fundamental property of nearly all life on earth. The need to move is driven by a variety of requirements, including escape from harsh weather, establishment of populations in new places, and procurement of food and mates. Understanding and predicting the extent of movement is critical for knowing why and how organisms occur where they do. It is also essential for forecasting impacts of habitat alteration and climate change on biodiversity. But movement is difficult to measure, even for one species of plant or animal and particularly at the large areas over which organisms regularly move and biodiversity conservation occurs. This study uses novel techniques to do what has so far been nearly impossible ? to measure movement over long distances for a diverse group of plant and animal species. First, it uses a novel technique, ?tagging? entire communities with enriched nitrogen, which can be used to track the movement of any organism in the community exposed to that source nitrogen. Second, dispersal will be quantified in a unique, large-scale, well-replicated, landscape experiment ? one that is unprecedented in its size and longevity for testing effects of corridors? thin strips of habitat that connect otherwise isolated habitat patches.

This study is important for effective conservation because it will measure the extent to which habitat fragmentation reduces the ability of plant and animal species to move through a landscape, and the extent to which wildlife corridors help organisms move across fragmented landscapes. Corridors are considered to be one of the most important tools available to help solve the many problems caused by habitat loss and fragmentation. Corridors may provide superhighways for plants and animals, and are expected to see increased traffic as climate changes, allowing organisms to shift their ranges as needed. This project will train undergraduate students through research and through the continuation of an award-winning collaborative program focused on mentoring an especially diverse set of students; support a K-12 program that provides environmental education to underprivileged youth; maintain scientific infrastructure (the world?s largest experiment on habitat corridors); and provide a long-term database on how organisms respond to corridors.

Effective start/end date5/1/1112/31/14


  • National Science Foundation: $75,000.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.