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ERIC Number: ED523536
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 292
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1243-8163-3
Road to the Future: Strategies for Wildlife Crossings and Youth Empowerment to Improve Wildlife Habitat in Roaded Landscapes
Tanner, Dawn Renee
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota
As the footprint of human society expands upon the earth, habitat loss and landscape fragmentation is an increasing global problem. That problem includes loss of native habitats as these areas are harvested, converted to agricultural crops, and occupied by human settlement. Roads increase human access to previously inaccessible areas, encourage landscape conversion as human access is increased, and are a pervasive component of the developed landscape. Helping our youth understand and engage with these processes is critical for informed decision-making about conservation of biodiversity, increased awareness and sensitivity to the effects of landscape fragmentation, improved attitudes toward local environments, and empowering environmentally responsible behavior. This dissertation addresses the question "What management strategies will optimize wildlife crossing structures and what educational strategies will optimize youth understanding and engagement to improve wildlife habitat in roaded landscapes?" The first chapter is global and reviews the literature addressing road crossings for wildlife. This chapter demonstrates that a network of crossing structures across roads can restore habitat connectivity for target species of wildlife; these structures function optimally for wildlife when best management practices including long-term monitoring and adaptive management are implemented. Nine best management practices developed in this paper advance the quest for optimization of wildlife crossings. Wildlife crossings are a significant tool for conserving wildlife in roaded landscapes. A broader question about advancing society's wildlife goals for roaded landscapes addresses education of our youth. Crossings are major engineering investments. As young people learn to value and take action on environmental issues, we may have improved opportunities to reconnect wildlife habitats. The remaining chapters in the dissertation address that second aspect of living in a roaded landscape: education. The chapters present and analyze the Taking Action Opportunities (TAO) curriculum in which students investigate the effects of habitat change for themselves using remote cameras to explore and understand biodiversity in fragmented habitats. Students compare camera-trap results in their schoolyard with findings in a nearby protected area and become engaged in social action, communicating with school and community leaders to achieve changes that improve habitats for biodiversity. The curriculum is quantitatively analyzed to show how it affects attitudes and behaviors of 5th-grade students. Two years of field testing results using TAO are analyzed with matched pairs pre and post tests. In those analyses, students using TAO as the experimental treatment were compared to a control group of students in the same school district who participated only in the standard environments curriculum delivered in 5th grade. Students in the experimental group were found to have higher scores on knowledge; attitudes; and behavior confidence, intent, and practice. Greatest gains were demonstrated in the category of behavior practice, providing evidence that TAO is a successful mechanism to increase student awareness of issues of habitat loss and landscape fragmentation and take action to improve wildlife habitat in their school and community. These five chapters advance society's ability to sustain the coexistence of wildlife and human communities in roaded landscapes. Some landscape conditions require "hard" engineering approaches and others require "soft" educational approaches. Through strategic investment, school districts, cities, states, and nations can protect and manage wildlife-rich habitats, reduce habitat loss and fragmentation, and can encourage young people to understand and value those wildlife-rich habitats. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 5; Intermediate Grades
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A