Date of Award

8-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

College/School

College of Science and Mathematics

Department/Program

Biology

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Meiyin Wu

Committee Member

Lee Lee

Committee Member

William Thomas

Abstract

Habitat fragmentation results when a landscape is broken apart due to urbanization. Fragmentation can result in a decrease in habitat size, and an increase in habitat patches which can then become increasingly isolated. Fragmentation may also be caused by human roadway and vehicle traffic, which degrades surrounding habitats, barricades wildlife movement, reduces the viability of wildlife populations and changes animal population networks. Fragmentation caused by roads often results in wildlife road mortality as animals traverse the roadway to obtain food, to mate or seek other resources. In order for conservation of wildlife populations to take place, it is essential to identify corresponding landscape characteristics of wildlife road crossing hotspots along road sections in New Jersey. The goals of the project were to 1) identify wildlife crossing hotspots in New Jersey 2) prioritize wildlife crossing hotspots 3) and assess habitat characteristics associated with hotspots. The results of the Poisson Regression Model suggest that shrub and herbaceous diversity significantly affect richness of reptile and amphibian communities as well as the number of road mortality near a corresponding roadway. In addition, we found that distance to nearest vernal pool and distance to nearest stream were negatively correlated with mortality, suggesting that roads closer to vernal pools and streams may cause greater wildlife road mortality. The resulting crossing hotspots should be further monitored and managed in an attempt to limit the effects of habitat fragmentation.

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