Conservation Research Laboratory: General Conservation Projects

Hsiang Ling Chen

Road and traffic effects on movements and space use of red squirrels
  • Time Period: 2009 - present

  • Location: Mt. Graham, AZ, U.S.A.

Road ecology is a burgeoning field of inquiry as roadways expand in number, length and width. We know that roads fragment habitats, increase mortality, change microclimates, and can act as barriers…thus they present a challenge in the conservation of biodiversity. Roads may function as impermeable barriers to some species while being semi-permeable to others. We are examining the relative permeability of roads to two species in the Pinaleno Mountains of southeastern Arizona: federally endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis) and non-native Aberts squirrels (Sciurus aberti).

Major Questions: Do red squirrels avoid roads? If so, what factors are most influential to avoidance? Do they avoid forest edges created by roads, forest gaps, or traffic disturbances?