Managing for Wildlife Habitat and Connectivity in the Duke Forest: Case Studies of Bobcats and Three Salamander Species

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2021-04-29

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Abstract

With the expansion of human development, wildlife habitat is becoming more isolated on the landscape. To maintain healthy wildlife populations, land must be protected for connectivity among habitat patches. This study focused on meeting both wildlife habitat and connectivity needs within Duke Forest, a large 7,000 acre forest in an otherwise mostly urban matrix. Four indicator species (marbled salamanders, spotted salamanders, four-toed salamanders, and bobcats), representing three major habitats within Duke Forest, were selected from a recent regional connectivity plan. A maximum entropy (Maxent) modeling approach was used to predict bobcat habitat in Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties. Overlaying this bobcat prediction and three salamander species Maxent-predicted habitat layers onto the connectivity data determined priority management areas. Recommendations were compiled from the literature to provide Duke Forest guidance on where and how to manage for the habitats of salamander species, which would be most sensitive to management activities. Suggestions included management specifications pertaining to timber harvest, prescribed fire, streamside management zones, and vernal pools or constructed wetlands. This work highlighted how a regional connectivity plan can be implemented at a local level and used for future management strategies.

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Sultzer, Kendra (2021). Managing for Wildlife Habitat and Connectivity in the Duke Forest: Case Studies of Bobcats and Three Salamander Species. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/22659.


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