The aim of this project is to establish an integrative eco-physiological approach across scales from local to continental, to predict functional connectivity for wild felids. The project’s specific goals are a) to determine the proximate mechanisms driving dispersal pulses from core to peripheral populations of wild felids, b) to investigate how climate and anthropogenic habitat fragmentation can influence the genetic structure and eco-evolution of these species, and c) to identify how local scale processes translate into large-scale patterns of species distributions.
The following are CONTRASST’s main achievements:
1) Creation of a Fur Repository at Trent University with over 55,000 fur samples from ten different species across North America, build-up of the respective databases and creation of a Fur Repository Working Group that oversees the management of said repository;
2) Collation of ecological data on the North American and European lynx species;
3) Integration of lynx eco-physiological data with environmental data and maps to feed landscape level analyses in North America;
4) Simulation modeling of landscape functional connectivity for lynx across scales, and validation of outcomes against genetic data, as well as against known ecological patterns;
5) Co-organization of the Workshop on “Functional Connectivity” in Leipzig, Germany in December 2017;
6) Publication of 15 scientific papers, several popular articles and media releases; and
7) Production of a technical report written for the Fur industry (NAFA) and the Ontario provincial government (OMNRF) with a summary of the main outcomes of the collaboration established between NAFA, Trent University and the OMNRF since its inception in 2009.
Furthermore, forecast maps and guidelines for maintaining connectivity across scales, based on alternative management scenarios and a synthesis of outcomes from NA and Europe, are being prepared to be delivered to policy-makers and communicated at a relevant conservation conference in mid-2019.