Integrated adaptive design for wildlife movement under climate change



Climate change is anticipated to alter both wildlife movement and distributions. Despite mounting evidence that wildlife-crossing infrastructure offers a reliable, physical solution to the linked problems of wildlife road mortality and habitat fragmentation, pervasive barriers – from economic to governance structures – prevent the widespread introduction of an infrastructure network. To overcome these barriers, and to cope with the challenges posed by climate change, we argue that proactive, anticipatory planning and evidence-based, integrated highway-impact mitigation strategies are needed. Specifically, wildlife-crossing infrastructure should emphasize an integrated and adaptive approach to constructing innovative, modular, and potentially moveable structures that can be transferred from one location to another as monitoring of habitats and wildlife needs indicate. Continued investment in fixed, static structures, which are typically based on engineering standards designed for traffic loads rather than wildlife movement, may prove ineffectual as habitats change in composition and location, potentially leading to associated changes in the locations of wildlife–vehicle collisions.