Student Perspective: What is it like to be a student studying connectivity?

As an Environmental Studies major at the University of Washington in Seattle, I have been learning about the importance of genetic diversity and how man-made barriers contribute to the reduction of this diversity for many species. I am currently conducting my Capstone project with the primary research question: “Does the implementation of wildlife corridors significantly reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions?”

When I first began my research on this topic, I had a basic understanding of corridors and primarily viewed them in terms of wildlife bridges, such as the ones in Banff National Park in Canada. Upon further readings and with the help of my Twitter account, I became familiar with ConservationCorridor.org – a gold mine of information about wildlife corridors and connectivity. This is where I began to understand the breadth and complexity of this topic.

As a student, it is often a challenge to know where to begin with research, particularly with a topic as broad as wildlife connectivity. ConservationCorridor.org provides a great jumping off point to current scientific research available in their Library, which I have utilized on multiple occasions. Additionally, I learned about corridor concerns in About Corridors, and got connected to other entities concerned with wildlife connectivity through their Web Resources. These up to date resources are very helpful from the students’ perspective.

There were items that I struggled with during my research that I imagine impact other students in my major as well. For example, understanding the language used by corridor science. Terms such as “least-cost pathways” and “landscape resistance” were new to me and took some time to truly understand their meaning. Having commonly used terms in corridor science for students could prove to be a simple tool with great benefits. The largest knowledge gap that I struggled with, and I believe many students in my major do, is in relation to the software used to map out connectivity. As a student, access to an interactive tutorial about different, commonly used modeling programs would be extremely useful when just starting out. There appear to be a multitude of these, and knowing where to focus your time to learn different programs would be very helpful.

My venture into this research continues into my final quarter as an undergraduate – I look forward to gaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of the challenges related to wildlife connectivity.

Are you a student studying corridors, landscape connectivity or habitat fragmentation and would like to comment or contribute to ConservationCorridor.org?  Contact us at corridor@conservationcorridor.org.

2017-03-30T21:41:32+00:00 March 23rd, 2017|

About the Author:

Amy Haymond
Amy Haymond is currently pursuing her B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Washington. After graduation in June 2017, her goal is to work in the field of wildlife connectivity with a focus on river and salmon restoration.