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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project
(2022)

Estimating Habitat Connectivity to Guide Wildlife Conservation and Management Planning at The Nature Conservancy’s Dangermond Preserve

Oak tree on hillside overlooking ocean

Group Members: Meghan Fletcher, Alyssa Broberg Kibbe, Grace Kumaishi, Anna Talken, Nikole Vannest

Faculty Advisors: Kelly Caylor

Client: The Nature Conservancy

Deliverables:

Proposal

Description

One of California’s largest predatory species, the mountain lion (Puma concolor), is facing adverse impacts from increasing urbanization and habitat fragmentation statewide. The lack of wildlife corridors for this far ranging species has left many populations susceptible to inbreeding due to reduced population sizes and genetic invariability. Encroaching human development that leads to negative human-lion interactions further threatens population viability. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is focused on understanding the role that the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve (the Preserve), a 24,460 acre property owned and managed by TNC, plays in the connectivity of mountain lions within Central California. As habitat fragmentation threatens the survival of many species, maintaining wildlife corridors is essential for developing effective conservation management plans for wildlife within and around the Dangermond Preserve. Using mountain lions as our umbrella species, we plan to utilize habitat suitability analyses and geospatial modeling to generate a multi-scale model of habitat connectivity. The results from this project will be used to provide recommendations for mountain lion conservation and key habitat management on the Preserve, including optimization and alternative scenarios for connectivity that will inform future corridor designs.

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