Wildlife rely on secure habitat and the ability to move—sometimes over great distances—to maintain robust populations through increased reproduction and survival rates. Movements occur on both a daily and seasonal basis, and understanding movements and their impediments are essential in maintaining landscape connectivity.
Connectivity is a landscape-level ecological characteristic that leads to a proper functioning and more resilient ecosystem. Wildlife depend on connectivity thrive: to track seasonal conditions, food, reproduce and respond to stochastic events (e.g. fire, drought, snow, flooding), as well as adapt to human development. Movement routes are essential to landscape connectivity, and wildlife use them on a daily basis to survive. However, landscape connectivity is threatened when habitat along routes or within seasonal ranges is lost due to conversion or other human development. In addition, features such as roads, fences and railroads fragment the landscape and incrementally reduce the ability of wildlife to move. However, there are common sense solutions.
Wildlife are unconcerned with human-made borders. The National Wildlife Federation realizes that the best way to increase connectivity is collaboration. We work with all stakeholders and use scientific approaches, including remote cameras, GPS tracking devices, modelling approaches and monitoring, to identify migration and other movement routes—and barriers—for solutions to ensure wildlife can navigate across a landscape. Fostering long-term relationships is essential, and we partner with state and federal agencies, landowners, universities and other conservation organizations to find on-the-ground solutions that support wildlife and people.
Education and outreach are also critical for sustaining and restoring connectivity for populations of native wildlife to the region. From citizen scientists to volunteers who modify fences or restore critical wet areas on the dry prairie, our success depends on building networks of community awareness and support for protecting habitats and removing movement barriers.
More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.