BioMove Research Training Group
BioMove Research Training Group 

Project P04

Animal movement patterns across habitats: connecting biodiversity

Gabriele Joanna Kowalski

University of Potsdam

Animal Ecology

Maulbeerallee 1

14469 Potsdam

+49 (0) 331 – 977 1988

gabriele.kowalski [at] uni-potsdam.de 

 

 

 

 

Supervisor team: Eccard, Grimm, Voigt

Person

I am a biologist of diverse biological disciplines by training. During my studies I focused on conservation biology related topics, behavior ecology, prenatal changes in behavior and in my last work on population genetics. During my training I have worked with different species (order by size: tissue of sea lions, grasshoppers, guinea pigs and dolphins) and learned a variety of methods like behavioural observations in the lab, different field works (terrestrial and aquatic). Particularly, my interests lie in the field of animal behaviour and ecology of different mammals in the context of conservation biology; like animal behavior in a highly anthropological influenced environment. Therefore I will investigate animal-defined corridors. In this approach the use of hedges and other structures in the agricultural land as possible corridors will be studied to determine the characteristics of animal-defined corridors. Depending on the size and the mobility of a species those corridors will differ; therefore I will observe the movement behaviour on different scales meaning different species, ranging from beetles to bigger mammals like fox and deer.

 

Background

With human population growth and subsequent urbanization and increasing human infrastructure, landscape fragmentation is threatening environments and species. Habitat corridors are gaining value for biodiversity conservation, connecting habitat patches. Habitat fragmentation leads to smaller habitats and loss of habitats. Animal movement in corridors is therefore an important feature to stabilise and equalise biodiversity. Movement depends on the individual capacity and on landscape structure. In the case of fragmentation this may refer to the ability of a species to overcome different barriers, so that individuals can move between separated habitats.

Today, corridors and stepping stones are very popular tools to enhance habitat connectivity. By investigating the movement behaviour of different species and the necessary structures to mediate movement, it could be easier to predict human impact on biodiversity. Additionally, facing climate change and the consequential changes in the environment for example shifts of suitable habitats to lower latitudes makes connectivity to (new) suitable habitats even more important for the conservation of species. Missing co

The project aim is to investigate the requirements for permanent landscape structures to function as animal-defined corridors. Therefore, there will be two basic approaches. First, corridors at road sites and hedge rows in an agricultural landscape will be tested for suitability as an animal-defined corridor for mammals of different size (from vole to hare, fox and deer) and for ground beetles. In the second experimental approach; different corridors will be designed in large grassland enclosures to test how small mammals and ground beetles behave in a fragmented environment.

This project is unique in its kind, because the multispecies approach and the experimental part were not in the focus of current conducted studies. Until today, most studies look at the behaviour of individual species and show only anecdotal evidence for corridor use; furthermore experiments within this field are very rare. The superior aim would be to investigate properties of a “perfect” corridor to fit the needs of different species to enable a successful corridor planning and improve connectivity of structures in dynamic landscapes increasing biodiversity.

nnectivity may lead to “trapping” the species in a shrinking habitat patch resulting in (local) extinction.

 

PhD project

The projects aim is to investigate the requirements of permanent landscape structures to function as animal-defined corridors. Therefore, there will be two basic approaches. First, corridors at road sites and hedge rows in an agricultural landscape will be tested for suitability as an animal-defined corridor and in the second experimental approach; different corridors will be designed in large grassland enclosures to test how small mammals behave in a fragmented environment.

This project is unique in its kind, because the multispecies approach and the experimental part were not in the focus of current conducted studies. Until today, most studies looked at the behaviour of individual species and show only anecdotal evidence for corridor use; furthermore experiments within this field are very rare. The superior aim would be to investigate properties of a “perfect” corridor to fit the needs of different species to enable a successful corridor planning and improve connectivity of structures in dynamic landscapes increasing biodiversity.

 

Links

Animal Ecology

ResearchGate

Project P04 - I
P04_Hedges.pdf
PDF-Dokument [378.5 KB]
Project P04 - II
P04_Kameraauswertung-Pilot.pdf
PDF-Dokument [298.9 KB]
Project P04 - III
P04_StakkatoHecke.pdf
PDF-Dokument [375.3 KB]

BioMove

Research Training Group DFG-GRK 2118/1

Speaker:

Prof. Dr. Florian Jeltsch

jeltsch [at] uni-potsdam.de

 

Deputy speaker:

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niels Blaum blaum [at] uni-potsdam.de

 

Coordination:

Dr. Antje Herde

herde [at] uni-potsdam.de

Contact

biomove-rtg [at] uni-potsdam.de

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Florian Jeltsch