Conservation Strategies That Address Habitat Loss and Fragmentation: Implications for Forest Cover Change and Wildlife Behavior

Habitat loss and fragmentation is currently the primary driver of biodiversity decline. Community forest management and wildlife crossing structures are two common conservation strategies applied to mitigate habitat loss and fragmentation. Community forest management is an approach that enables local communities to participate in forest management in order to reduce deforestation, and crossing structures are intended to mitigate the negative impacts of roads in fragmenting the landscape. To implement efficient design, their effectiveness needs to be examined using rigorous and appropriate methods. Herein, I assess the efficacy of each in the context of counterfactual assessments and baseline conditions. Using Pemba Island, Tanzania, as a case study, I monitor Community forest management, and use unprotected areas as the baseline. For wildlife crossing structures I examine structures along California highways, and use adjacent wildland areas absent of roads as the baseline. I employ methods such as remote sensing and hierarchical modeling to decipher forest cover change, wildlife movement, and behavioral responses within a fragmented habitat. I focus on particular anthropogenic stressors that may contribute to the efficacy of Community forest management and wildlife crossing structures, such as human population density, and light and noise pollution. The results offer solutions to the broader conservation community in how to evaluate the conservation tools we are currently utilizing. Furthermore, results guide the decision-making process for wildlife managers, practitioners, and agencies specific to these case studies and future conservation projects.