Oklahoma State University researchers received funding recently as part of the first round of support announcements made by the South Central Climate Science Center. The center – of which OSU is a member – is one of eight Department of Interior regional climate science centers nationwide.
Dr. Kristen Baum, an associate professor of Zoology, is principal investigator on Terrestrial Connectivity across the South Central United States: Implications for the Sustainability of Wildlife Populations and Communities, a two-year project that received $203,918.
Connectivity, or the extent to which a landscape facilitates or impedes the movement of organisms, is an important component of the sustainability of wildlife populations and communities. Habitat fragmentation, modification, and loss have been implicated in the decline of almost all threatened and endangered species, and both continued land-use change and climate change will have an effect on connectivity. The goal of this project is to use a systematic and comprehensive approach to evaluate terrestrial connectivity across the South Central United States. Models will be used to predict patterns of connectivity for species which vary in habitat preferences, methods of habitat selection, and responses to the area between habitats. Researchers will evaluate the implications of predicted land-use change across the study area, including a focus on climate change and dominant land uses within the region. The results of this project will include spatially explicit connectivity maps that can be used for making informed management decisions about terrestrial connectivity within this region.
Her cooperators and partners include: Samuel D. Fuhlendorf, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, OSU; Kristopher L. Giles, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, OSU; Daniel Saenz, Southern Research Station, U.S. Forest Service; Monica Papeş, Department of Zoology, OSU; Norman C. Elliot, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service; Bill Bartush, Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, National Wetlands Research Center; Allan Janus, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.