Wildlife population shouldn’t be isolated
The fragmentation of wildlife habitat threatens the geographic spread of wildlife, limiting their potential gene flow and population growth.
Protecting wildlife habitat is important, but it can be futile if protected areas are isolated from each other.
Wildlife cannot utilize these protected areas if they are not connected. Wildlife will have to either remain isolated or risk traveling though developed areas in the hopes of finding new habitat, which can be risky for them.
A lack of movement between habitats genetically isolates populations. This can lead to a lack of genetic diversity and an increase in inbreeding within these populations.
Isolated populations need to be connected in order to prevent population loss and loss of genetic diversity in wildlife. Genetic diversity keeps wildlife populations healthy. Habitat corridors protect biodiversity for all species, which is essential for having healthy and productive ecosystems.
These ecosystems provide essential natural resources for the state.
Allegheny woodrats are a species in Pennsylvania that are affected by population isolation. Woodrats are important to Pennsylvania’s mountain forest ecosystems because they spread the seeds of plants, including the rare American chestnut trees, which are an important food source for other species.
Woodrats live in rocky mountainous areas, and these habitats are fragmented across the state. Traveling between habitats is difficult for woodrats because the habitats are separated by human development in the form of roads and urbanization.
This can result in the deaths of traveling woodrats and prevent them from traveling to colonize new areas. Isolation of populations has led to inbreeding and a lack of genetic diversity in woodrat populations, which can reduce reproduction rates.
Endangered and non-game mammal section supervisor Greg Turner states that “It is hypothesized by some experts that the genetic depression is reducing the fecundity of females and causing overall population declines.”
Woodrats have been introduced into new areas to help spread genetic diversity.
Creating corridors between isolated habitats can allow Allegheny woodrats and other animals to travel between them.
These would allow animals to spread and increase their populations and ranges. The spread of individuals would lead to more gene flow and genetic diversity.
Creating these corridors can be done by protecting small stretches of forest that connect wildlife habitat.
These corridors do not have to be big, they just need to provide enough land for animals to travel through them into larger more suitable habitats.
Allowing wildlife populations to spread would increase biodiversity, and this would be good for ecosystems and natural resource conservation.