Climate change has devastating impacts on transportation budgets as well on the cost and success of wildlife conservation. Reaction to overwhelmed structures is far more expensive than preparation but where to focus already limited maintenance funds. Likewise, most wildlife (endangered, threatened and common species) need increased mobility to successfully find mates, food, and shelter resources in novel locations or over expanded territories, as their former habitats increasing fail to meet their needs (necessities/resource requirements).
Roads impact the flow of water and ability of wildlife to traverse a landscape. Just as larger structures allow more water to pass under a road, larger structures provide more habitat connectivity to more wildlife species. While larger hydraulic structures are far from the solution to climate change, they are a critical component in what must be a diverse and complex plan to provide transportation in the future.
Wildlife habitat connectivity studies are as expensive as they are necessary to provide useful linkages to increasing fragmented habitats. Unfortunately, time may be the most expensive factor in the challenge to retain wildlife both rare and common. As climate changes, habitats change and the wildlife’s response to changes force yet another compounding factor in the challenge of conducting scientific study in the laboratory of life.
This study plans to conduct literature review of resiliency planning and ecological connectivity. Use existing habitat connectivity grading systems and/or develop an expert based rating system. Evaluate past and current NCDOT hydraulic plans of constructed and future projects with one and two-dimensional models. Establish potential relationship between hydraulic and ecological planning and evaluate if habitat connectivity could be improved on a landscape scale with adoption of two-dimensional modeling.