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Wildlife corridors shown effective

In one of the first large-scale studies of wildlife corridors - thin strips of habitat that connect isolated patches of habitat - Dr. Nick Haddad, assistant professor of zoology at North Carolina State University, and a team of researchers from across the country have found that a number of plant and animal species derive great benefits from corridors.

The findings suggest that corridors helped increase animal movement rates between patches in the study area. Further, plant pollination and seed dispersal rates, which are other important characteristics of healthy ecosystems, were also larger between patches connected by corridors than isolated patches of habitat.

An aerial photograph of one of the eight sites shows the connected patches as well as three isolated patches of habitat.

The study will be published in an online version of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Monday, Sept. 16. The print edition will be published Oct. 1.

"Our findings suggest that corridors can give plants and animals access to greater areas. Higher movement can help prevent loss of populations, and ultimately biodiversity," Haddad says. "This study looks at not just the effects of corridors on movement rates, but how these movement rates are mediated by interactions between plants and animals."

Common sense, and years of academic theory, say corridors are pathways that give plants and animals the opportunity to survive and thrive in habitats increasingly encroached upon by urban sprawl and other land-use changes. If animals are able to move more freely, the theory postulates, they're more likely to not only move to wider areas, but also increase their interactions with plants. Haddad and his colleagues set out to scientifically prove this theory in large areas.

"Until recently, there's been no scientific evidence that corridors promote movement," Haddad says. "For corridors to work, they have to increase the mov
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Contact: Dr. Nick Haddad
nick_haddad@ncsu.edu
919-515-4588
North Carolina State University
17-Sep-2002


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