Friday, April 1, 2011

Corridors of Abundance

Greg Keller, associate professor of conservation biology, recently coauthored a paper on the impact of roads on small animals. The title of the paper, “Impacts of Roads and Corridors on Abundance and Movement of Small Mammals on the Llano Estacado of Texas,” was published in the March 2011 issue of Southwestern Naturalists and recently appeared on BioOne.org. BioOne sees sustainable scholarly publishing as an inherently collaborative enterprise connecting authors, nonprofit publishers, academic institutions, research libraries, and research funders in the common goal of maximizing access to critical research.

M. Todd Kuykendall, coauthor of the paper, was a graduate student at the time of the study and is now a faculty member at a college in New Mexico. The main point of the paper was to elucidate the impacts that human development in the form of roads and agriculture have on populations of small mammals, such as kangaroo rats and ground squirrels,” said Keller. “Some of the results were very subtle, and we could only learn about them with an intensive recapture effort.” Part of the research included using fluorescent powder applied to two mouse species, and following their trails at night with black lights to see how roads affected their behavior. Keller, who hopes undergraduates will continue helping him with research projects to gain field experience, investigated the impacts of roads on population dynamics, mortality rates, and individual behaviors of small mammals. “Now that we’ve deeply investigated these ares, we hope to find the elusive answer to the age-old question: What about chickens and their crossing behaviors?

Photo: Dr. Keller being filmed by The Boston Globe for a special news story titled “Professor RoadKill”—on his research at Gordon College.

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