Landscape connectivity is currently a major environmental issue taken into account in the national strategy for biodiversity conservation in France. The linear transport infrastructure (LTI) networks are extensive and particularly dense in this country compared to those in most European countries. This can lead to the reproductive isolation of wild animal populations located on both sides of the structures (canals, highway,…) and therefore the loss of genetic diversity, threatening their long-term survival.
In 2012 and 2016, two genetic studies revealed a variable barrier effect of two LTIs, the A34 highway and the Ardennes canal, for the red deer (Cervus elaphus), the European pine marten (Martes martes) and the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in a geographical area considered to be a major connectivity way in Champagne-Ardenne. Based on those results, a thesis project was initiated in 2022 to clarify the effect of each of these two LTIs on these species, but also on wild boar (Sus scrofa), through a functional connectivity approach. These include : (1) assessing the impact of LTIs on population gene flow through comparative analysis using individual-centered sampling ; (2) identifying the behavioral responses of several GPS-collared individuals to LTIs ; (3) identifying and characterizing selected or avoided structural and environmental elements to cross LTIs through camera trap monitoring of available crossing structures ; (4) identifying potential natural corridors disrupted by LTIs by locating areas where animal mortality is increased by collisions and drownings.
Based on the various types of data obtained, GIS models of the functional connectivity of the territory will be developed to predict the crossability of an LTI and to improve the predictivity of the existing connectivity models. First results suggest that the presence of the highway strongly constrains the circulation of wild boars and red deers on the territory. However, this is not the case for roe deer and marten which are regularly observed in highway potential crossing structures.
This poster highlights our research objectives, preliminary results obtained in 2012 and 2016, and the first results from the current study. All of those results will be made available to LTI managers and developers so that ILT development projects ensure functional landscape connectivity for as many species as possible.