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Habitat Corridors Not Always Coolest

Turtle Crossing



Imagine trying to get home by running across a busy freeway. Without a walkway, a stoplight or a crosswalk, it could be a dangerous adventure. Well, habitat corridors are a way that humans have attempted to help wildlife navigate through urban development. They're kind of like green hallways that connect larger wildlife areas.

A great idea in theory, but it doesn't always work. Robert Ewers, a Cambridge University biologist, found that many animals don't like to be fenced in -- even if it does get them to the other side. It's a border thing. Animals like jaguars, pumas, otters, and ocelots, prefer to roam deep in forests -- far from the borders.

In Canada, for example, a grizzly bear habitat corridor didn't work because the bears avoided the corridor. Trapped in shrinking territories, they started attacking people. Meanwhile, other species like leaf-cutter ants thrive on the edges. They take advantage of the opportunities created at the border.

The answer might be in the shape of the corridor. Ewers advocates carefully designing wildlife corridors to benefit each species. Kidney bean or sunflower-shaped spaces anyone? It seems for wildlife shape means something.

By Andrew Porterfield

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