Oral Session #39: Conservation: Landscapes and Reserve Design.
Presiding: D. Peters
Tuesday, August 6. 1:00 PM to 4:45 PM. Graham Meeting Room, TCC.

Using GIS and field research applications to integrate transportation and greenways planning in Florida.

SMITH, DANIEL*,1, 1 University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

ABSTRACT- GIS and field analyses were employed to determine ways to improve highway permeability at interfaces with ecological greenways. First, greenway--highway interfaces were identified using ESRI's Arcview GIS tools. The interface zones include 9,643 km of highway that cross identified ecological greenways. Second, an algorithm to prioritize 'ecological hotspots' on highways was developed to evaluate need for wildlife crossing structures or underpasses. Of 15,000 road segments prioritized in the GIS model, 47% were located within greenway linkages, 34% were found on existing and proposed state conservation lands, and 9% were present in isolated riparian systems and wetlands. Third, a field inventory was conducted to assess extent of mitigation needed at 1,400 priority 'ecological hotspots' on state highways. Features identified included presence of existing structures and their characteristics, roadway characteristics, surrounding landscape features, and signs of animal presence. Lastly, a 2-yr field study is being conducted to reveal utility of existing infrastructure designs as wildlife passages on different road widths in different landscape contexts. Structures are monitored on a continual basis using remote infrared camera equipment or twice weekly using track plates. From March-December 2001, 250 sites on 34 roads in 26 counties were monitored. Of approx. 21,250 observations, 26 different vertebrates identified to most accurate taxonomic level, were recorded either using or avoiding culverts, or as road-kills. Statistics are being performed to determine preference according to structural and environmental characteristics. These studies support diverse measures aimed at improving the overall functional connectivity of the statewide ecological network.

KEY WORDS: Greenways, Roads, GIS