Theses and Dissertations

SOUTH TEXAS WILDLIFE ACTIVITY ACROSS A FRAGMENTED LANDSCAPE AND ROAD MITIGATION CORRIDOR

Caitlin K. Brett, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Copyright 2023 The Author. All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

Wildlife crossing structures (WCS) and roadside fencing are commonly installed to mitigate habitat fragmentation, wildlife road mortalities, and other negative effects that roads can have on the surrounding landscape. Eight such WCS were constructed below Farm-to-Market (FM)106 in Cameron County, Texas, across a 16 km corridor transecting the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. These WCS, paired with adjacent roadside fencing, were intended to prevent road mortalities of the endangered ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and to mitigate the barrier effect of FM106 on this and other meso-mammal species. This study will analyze camera trap data from roadside and habitat reference sites to model target species activity throughout the study corridor and identify changes in broader community composition associated with the road and its mitigation structures. This analysis will allow for more accurate estimates of mitigation structure performance while controlling for the influence of land cover characteristics on target species detections.