Human society is more connected than ever. Between mobile phones and internet applications, we can connect with each other instantaneously, around the globe.
And more traditionally, the United States alone is home to nearly 4 million miles of roads, structures which, for many of us, have only served to enhance our sense of connectedness to the cities we live in, to our families and friends, and to the larger world around us. Yet, these same roads that connect people have the opposite effect to the natural world, extracting an extreme toll on the plants and animals around us, and in many unexpected ways.
And roads and highways are just the tip of the iceberg. Join us as we unravel the many complex dimensions of wildlife connectivity while revealing the surprising toll that human activity has inflicted on the movement of species. Join your guide, Griff Griffith, as he is helped by experts Ben Goldfarb, Beth Pratt, and Robert Rock, who will also teach us how we can help restore essential links while supporting the health of the living beings around us.
Beyond a podcast, Jumpstart Nature is a movement fueled by volunteers, igniting a fresh approach to reconnecting people with the natural world. In the face of our pressing climate and biodiversity challenges, we’re on a mission to help you discover newfound purpose and motivation.
For even deeper nature insights, delve into our companion podcast, Nature’s Archive.
Links to Topics Discussed
Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet, by Ben Goldfarb
Lights Out Program from the Audubon Society
Living Habitats, Robert Rock’s landscape design company
Related Podcasts You Might Like
Links to Additional Resources
This podcast episode was written and produced by Michelle Balderston. Our host is Griff Griffith. Michael Hawk provided production oversight.
Transcript (Click to View)
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[00:00:00] Griff Griffith: Imagine you are a skunk. Not just any skunk. You are a male skunk in late winter. And like all male skunks in late winter, you are feeling strongly motivated by the carnal urge to find a mate. You can’t resist it.
[00:00:14] You leave your familiar territory armed with one of nature’s most effective… and stinky defenses, and you’re hoping to find love, or at least an available female to breed with, but you encounter a new predator while crossing a road. This lightning eyed hunter barrels down on you with a speed that you’ve never witnessed.
[00:00:34] You raise your tail in warning, but it’s undetoured. The brightness of its eyes get larger and larger the closer it gets. It’s uninterrupted growls grow louder and louder. You spray. The next morning, the smell of your failed defense is obvious even before your crumpled up body is spotted on the side of the road. Nothing in your evolutionary heritage prepared you for a freeway. Your genetic lineage is gone.
[00:01:01] And this straightforward problem of roadkill provides just a glimpse into the broader problems stemming from the isolation and fragmentation of natural habitats.
[00:01:12] Ben Goldfarb: Lots of research shows that they’re genetically fragmented and isolated by highways, or at least, you know, certainly many populations are. You know, they can’t cross roads to find new mates and, you know, their gene pools kind of stagnate as a, as a result.
[00:01:27] Beth Pratt: I think we tend to, think that plants don’t need to move, but they do. It’s, it’s the same principle that resiliency, genetic resiliency.
[00:01:36] Griff Griffith: Most people are astonished to learn about all the ways that the highways and their associated noise and lights affect wildlife. The impacts can range from gene flow to auditory barriers and result in the slow or alarmingly fast removal of wildlife species from the landscape. But don’t worry! A lot of innovative progress is being made around the world to reconnect these important pathways, and you can even be a part of these solutionary actions in your very own backyard, porch, park, patio, balcony, workplace, place of worship, and or school.
[00:02:09] I’m Griff Griffith, and welcome to Jumpstart Nature.
[00:02:14] Beth Pratt: Yeah. Wildlife connectivity, I think in a nutshell, I mean, you can get into, you know, really robust scientific definitions, but it’s, it’s ensuring animals and plants can move from landscape to landscape. That you don’t have barriers that impede movement.
[00:02:36] Griff Griffith: That’s Beth Pratt, who is a wildlife advocate, author, and California Director for the National Wildlife Federation.
[00:02:42] You may know her best as leader of Save L. A. Cougars, a campaign to build the largest wildlife crossing in the world, that’s going to cross Highway 101 in Los Angeles. It’s called the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, and it will help to reconnect two mountain ranges and their wildlife.
[00:02:58] Ben Goldfarb: The notion of habitat connectivity is just the idea that wildlife can move through all of the different habitats they need to meet their various needs.
[00:03:06] Griff Griffith: And that’s Ben Goldfarb, an independent conservation journalist and author of the new book, Crossings: How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of Our Planet. These two experts have introduced easy to understand definitions of connectivity, which again, is the ability for species to move freely and uninhibited within or between environments.
[00:03:25] But we need to understand exactly why this is so important.
[00:03:29] Beth Pratt: Connectivity and connected landscapes is something we didn’t realize was so vital for the health of functioning ecosystems. At least when I was first starting out in conservation, we thought islands of habitats worked, we now know they don’t.
[00:03:43] And movement is important for many reasons. Obviously if animals get killed while they’re trying to move to find food or shelter or mates, that’s not good.
[00:03:53] If you have barriers that impede genetic diversity, that’s not good, right? So if animals can’t move to find mates, maybe they don’t die, but the barriers are something that, prevent them from finding food, shelter, or mates.
[00:04:07] Ben Goldfarb: I think that migration, you know, this kind of seasonal movement between points is a really obvious example of the importance of habitat connectivity, but, when you think about the other needs that animals have, of course, you know, they need to find mates, that’s a really fundamental part of wild animal life and, you know, the ability to, you know, move from your, sort of your natal population where you were born and potentially disperse out into an area, you know, with unrelated males or females that you can access.
[00:04:33] Griff Griffith: Habitat connectivity supports genetic diversity, which is critical for maintaining species health in the long term. If a species gene flow becomes stymied, populations begin to dwindle and ecosystems can even break down. Fragmentation also causes increased competition for prey and space and other resources. It also increases the number of encounters between humans and wildlife, which as we know, can go bad really fast.
[00:04:58] The impacts stretch far beyond the immediate and are becoming more severe as habitats become more and more fragmented. Fragmentation is kind of the opposite of connectivity. It refers to the many discontinuous patches among larger habitat. Just imagine one big island breaking into a bunch of little tiny islands. The National Wildlife Federation has named fragmentation as one of the primary threats to survival of wildlife in the United States.
[00:05:23] And what’s driving this fragmentation? In a large sense, it’s all the built environments and structures that humans have introduced in our short time on this planet. From buildings and infrastructure to agricultural fields and forestry activities.
[00:05:36] But there’s arguably no bigger culprit than roads. In the United States alone, there’s an estimated 4 million miles of roads with nearly 50, 000 miles of interstate highways, which are home to about 25 percent of all traffic, and each and every one of those roads presents a challenge, a question, to surrounding wildlife. To cross or not to cross.
[00:06:00] Ben Goldfarb: Not crossing highways in some ways, as some researchers pointed out to me, you know, it’s almost more dangerous than attempting to cross.
[00:06:06] Griff Griffith: We’ve highlighted some of the implications of wildlife not crossing. Now what happens if they do? I think we all know the answer to that. Many, unfortunately, become roadkill. It’s hard to estimate just how many animals are killed by our vehicles every year but the number according to Beth Pratt sits around 1 to 2 million per year, and that is very likely way, way lower than the actual amount of dead wildlife on the sides of our roads.
[00:06:33] Beth Pratt: I think there’s a moral cost to it that we have not reckoned with. If you just look at stats, you have eight to $9 billion worth of damage in the US every year just from these animal vehicle collisions. And that’s just the human costs, right? That’s medical costs, that’s property damage. Your car gets wrecked. That’s loss of work. If that was caused by anything else, it would be a public health outrage. We’d be taking action against it.
[00:07:00] Robert Rock: It’s everything from the cost of cleanup to the insurance impact to the impact infrastructure.
[00:07:07] Griff Griffith: And that is the voice of Robert Rock, Landscape Architect, Principal and Chief Operating Officer of Living Habitats, an Illinois based architecture firm that puts sustainability and ecological well being at the heart of their designs.
[00:07:19] Notably, Robert and his design team are behind the previously mentioned Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which we’ll be talking about a lot through this episode.
[00:07:27] Robert Rock: Yeah, when you take all those things in total and you understand it’s that big of an economic impact, it’s kind of shocking.
[00:07:33] Griff Griffith: And that’s just what we CAN see. But our roadsides are home to a diverse array of species and it’s not just the bigger, more visible species that are held back by our roads, even plants face similar consequences.
[00:07:47] Beth Pratt: I think we tend to, think that plants don’t need to move, but they do. it’s the same principle that resiliency, genetic resiliency as I think we all learned is, you know, we can’t be in breeding with our relatives. And that is the same for animals as it is for plants.
[00:08:04] Griff Griffith: And if plant populations start decreasing…
[00:08:06] Beth Pratt: You start pulling any one plant out of an ecosystem, there is an animal that depends on that plant, whether it be a butterfly or a deer or whatever.
[00:08:15] You start having localized extinctions that then actually can affect the whole. So think about if you are a, you know, a plant that’s dispersing seeds, whether it be through wind or other animals, and the only seed dispersal that’s happening, or genetic exchange is right around you because there’s a road in the way.
[00:08:35] So you start creating these islands of genetically like plants. And as we know over time, that does not bode for a, a resilient population, you need genetic diversity.
[00:08:47] Griff Griffith: That’s certainly a problem in and of itself. But there’s one major factor that’s increasing risks and that is climate change. This should come as no surprise given the devastating wildfires that have consumed many parts of North America over this and the past several summers.
[00:09:03] The number of people who have been forced to flee their homes is staggering. We can’t survive such inhospitable and dangerous environments and neither can wildlife.
[00:09:13] Beth Pratt: You know, if you’re an animal who is living on a landscape that is burned, you need options. And if you can’t get to an unburnt landscape because there’s a roadway in the way, you’re gonna starve to death. And indeed, we saw that happen with the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains.
[00:09:30] Ben Goldfarb: Drought, fire, these other climatic, conditions are increasing the imperative that animals be able to move between patches of habitat and roads are exactly the problem that are preventing them from doing that.
[00:09:41] Griff Griffith: Because of changing climatic conditions, namely warmer temperatures and environmental disasters like droughts, wildfires and extreme weather, species need escape routes.
[00:09:51] But with so many roads in the way, that has become increasingly difficult, if not downright impossible. And to prevent this from happening, first and foremost, meaningful action on climate change is absolutely necessary around the world. But of course, this is a huge issue that will take time. So let’s get inspired by taking a look at what will soon be the largest wildlife crossing in the world. And it will be spanning one of the busiest freeways in California. Currently under construction, the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing will span 10 lanes of Highway 101 in California, and by Beth Pratt’s estimates, endures 300 to 400 thousand cars each and every day. The crossing is expected to be complete in 2025.
[00:10:33] Beth Pratt: The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, I think is, um, my colleague called it a Bridge of hope, and I, I think that’s the best thing I can call it. It is a visionary project that is reconnecting the Santa Monica mountains to the rest of the world. It was cut off decades ago when we put the 101 in and really isolated the entire mountain range.
[00:10:55] So this bridge is not just going to get animals from point A to point B, you know, it’s not just gonna be about mountain lions crossing over. On top is going to be a living landscape that pretty much reconnects the Santa Monica mountains to the rest of the world. So, along with mountain lions crossing on it, you’re going to have monarch butterflies laying their eggs on top of it. You might have a fox family living on it. You’ll have western fence lizards.
[00:11:18] It’s a living landscape on top of one of the world’s busiest freeways. And I just can’t think of anything more hopeful than that.
[00:11:25] Griff Griffith: Robert Rock as one of the architects on the crossing can speak more about what truly makes this bridge more than just a bridge.
[00:11:33] Robert Rock: You have to think about this type of infrastructure, not as a bridge, it’s better to think about it as an elevated piece of habitat. Sure, there are structural components that are classic to bridge architecture, but all of those incredible engineering feats as a part of this project are done in service of the environment.
[00:11:59] Ultimately when we’re designing things like this, You are creating this microcosm of the natural world.
[00:12:05] Griff Griffith: Once complete, this crossing will claim the title of the largest in the world, restoring habitats within a densely populated area that has been heavily degraded by human activities and development over many decades.
[00:12:18] Its proponents hope to see the crossing allow for the free movement of a broad variety of species without the risk of car collisions, while also enhancing the health and well being of many previously isolated populations. Outside of California, similar crossings or corridors have been popular in parts of Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, and more, highlighting a trend which is only continuing to grow globally. And more and more regional or federal agencies are making it mandatory to consider wildlife safety.
[00:12:48] Great. So we build more wildlife crossings like the Wallis Annenberg wildlife crossing. That’s problem solved, right? Well, unfortunately, it’s a bit more complex than that.
[00:12:59] Beth Pratt: Light pollution is an incredibly big barrier and can cause death, disorientation, and, and many other impacts to wildlife.
[00:13:10] Griff Griffith: Most migratory birds, including ducks, geese, and songbirds will migrate under the cover of darkness, given that the nighttime skies are often cooler and calmer with less risk of predation. Unfortunately, with the light from our cities, distracting them from their paths, once they get lost, they can be left circling the same area of the sky over and over becoming very tired.
[00:13:31] Worst case scenario, this exhaustion can put them more at risk of predation, lead them to collide with physical structures, or even cause death.
[00:13:39] Ben Goldfarb: Of course, so many nocturnal species that rely on darkness to hunt and to avoid predators and to feed.
[00:13:44] Robert Rock: It throws off circadian rhythm, their foraging and their, their hunting activity, their sleep cycle, their mating habits.
[00:13:50] Griff Griffith: There’s a whole other piece about how artificial light can push migratory animals to migrate earlier than they biologically should or otherwise would. Yet, it’s not just birds who are in trouble.
[00:14:01] Beth Pratt: Dr. Travis Longcore did a light map and pretty much showed that the late P-22’s route to Griffith Park was probably dictated almost entirely by avoiding light pollution.
[00:14:12] Griff Griffith: P-22 is the famous mountain lion of Los Angeles who miraculously crossed multiple freeways to get to Griffith Park in search of a territory of his own. Unfortunately, he only found isolation in the urban Griffith Park and died famous, but unmated.
[00:14:26] So species can be inhibited by visual barriers just as much as they can be by physical ones. An artificial light, which has become such a fundamental component of modern human societies, is causing so much harm to the natural world by eradicating natural patterns of lightness and darkness.
[00:14:44] Whether it’s from light bulbs, headlights, or the glow of our phone screens, this perpetual light has undoubtedly revolutionized the way that we as humans live. But if it can cause such harm to other species, perhaps there’s some harm it can cause to us too.
[00:14:58] Luckily, when it comes to solutions for enhancing connectivity,
[00:15:01] Ben Goldfarb: I think that’s something, that’s something that wildlife crossing designers and engineers are increasingly conscious of, the fact that, you can have this wonderful wildlife crossing, but , you know, if that crossing is brightly lit and noisy, animals are less inclined to use it.
[00:15:17] Griff Griffith: Taking the Wallace Annenberg Wildlife Crossing as an example, Robert Rock and his team were acutely aware of the negative impacts of light pollution on migratory and nocturnal species. While considering the benefits to human safety that highway lights often provide, they needed to devise a design which held human and wildlife wellbeing in equal regard.
[00:15:36] Robert Rock: When you have surfaces that are lighter in color, they have an increased amount of reflectivity. The concrete barriers that are in the median or along the edge of the freeway are painted white on purpose, you know, to reflect that light, to make them a a bit more visible.
[00:15:52] But ultimately, when artificial light hits those surfaces and it bounces off of them, it creates this illumination that creates what’s called sky glow.
[00:16:02] What you get is kind of this halo effect from any of these portions of, of developed area and, and infrastructure where you’re affecting those species and their ability to exist within a certain offset distance from the, freeway itself.
[00:16:16] Griff Griffith: This sky glow was ultimately addressed through more intentional design choices meant to resolve a seemingly inherent conflict between human safety needs and wildlife safety.
[00:16:26] Robert Rock: We worked pretty deliberately and diligently with the electrical engineers at Caltrans to change essentially what’s been, you know, the last couple decades of, push in a different direction to be more efficient with light sources.
[00:16:40] The stationary ones that are along the freeway. Where the light fixtures would get higher, they would get brighter, and they would be spaced further apart. Well, the challenge with that is that obviously that light, when it’s pushed in those extremes is impacting further and further from the freeway itself.
[00:16:54] So we asked them if we could bring those lights back down to more proximate height. We could put them a little bit closer together. Uh, and then we also worked with them to change the, the color temperature of the lights.
[00:17:04] Ben Goldfarb: The designers, you know, have really gone to great pains to mask some of those light pollution impacts, through vegetated screens and berms and walls and other, other measures.
[00:17:15] Griff Griffith: Those two considerations alone, through the use of more efficient, less invasive light sources to the construction of these large earthen berms -doubling as both visual barriers to light pollution and ecosystem enhancer -will go a long way to restoring wildlife connectivity along the 101 in Southern California.
[00:17:32] And more progress is taking place elsewhere too. International guidelines have been developed under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and Wild Animals or the CMS to address artificial light as a major source of pollution and detriment to nature.
[00:17:48] These guidelines will be presented for adoption at an international conference later this year. Additionally, a number of cities have begun participating in quote unquote lights out events, a campaign developed by the Audubon Society, which encourages reducing unnecessary artificial lights during critical migration periods.
[00:18:07] Now, what’s the deal with noise?
[00:18:10] Beth Pratt: Noise pollution, another one, in the ocean and elsewhere, animals tend to try to avoid human noises, and especially on our roadways, some of them won’t even get to a road to try to cross because the noise is so impactful they turn around before they even get there.
[00:18:28] Ben Goldfarb: There are lots of, studies showing that, uh, you know, animals avoid noisy areas, or, they have to modulate their calls. If you’re an amphibian or a songbird to kind of be heard over the din. Road noise is really a form of habitat loss.
[00:18:43] Griff Griffith: Okay, so we know that large structures like roads prevent wildlife connectivity, and we know that artificial light pollution poses another challenge.
[00:18:52] In the same way, species can often become disoriented by the human made noises around them, especially near a busy freeway, which then either deters them or confuses them to the point that they’re not able to reach their intended destinations.
[00:19:07] Take this for example. You found yourself in a crowd full of people and you’re trying to find your friend. You hear them calling your name faintly in the distance, but you can’t exactly make out where their voice is coming from. Humans rely on auditory cues to move through our environments just as much as other species do. And noise pollution is posing a huge problem. According to the World Health Organization, noise pollution is one of the most detrimental forms of pollution. There’s a specific name for this kind of human-made noise, called anthropophony, or anthrophony for short. This term was coined by musician and soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause along with his colleague Stuart Gage and refers to the sounds that are generated directly by humans or our technologies.
[00:19:52] While there’s a bit more nuance and details we can get into, this term is important as it sets itself apart from geophony, the sounds of natural non biological things such as wind or water, and biophony, or the sounds of living organisms.
[00:20:05] Why is it important to distinguish human made sounds from other living or non living sounds? Well, estimates suggest that the rustling of leaves might be as quiet as 20 to 30 decibels, while a small stream might be 40 decibels.
[00:20:19] In contrast, the sound of a lawnmower can be as loud as 90 decibels. The wail of a siren? Up to 140 decibels, both of which far exceed the threshold at which sound can damage a human’s ears. And things become even more serious if those sounds persist over long periods of time.
[00:20:41] Ben Goldfarb: I didn’t quite realize the extent to which all of that noise was impacting me until you read the literature about the human health effects of road noise and, you know, and realize that, I mean, that constant racket, that stress, is raising our blood pressures and, you know, making us more susceptible to stroke and cardiac disease and, all kinds of problems. I mean, road noise is literally shortening our lifespans. You know, it’s, it’s one of the great, I think, unsung public health crises of our time. You know, and it has kind of a similar, uh, effect on wildlife as well.
[00:21:14] Griff Griffith: If humans were removed entirely from these landscapes, just think of how quiet things would be. The consequences of anthropophony are striking.
[00:21:24] Ben Goldfarb: if you’re an animal, a wild animal, you know, your, hearing is indispensable, right? if you’re an owl or a fox, you know, that’s how you detect your prey. And, if you’re a prey species, that’s how you detect your predator, right, is primarily through hearing. you can’t hear, you know, you’re going to avoid that area.
[00:21:41] Griff Griffith: Researchers have studied this very effect in what is called the Phantom Road Experiment…
[00:21:47] Ben Goldfarb: …which was conducted in Idaho by researchers at Boise State University. And, basically what they did was they recorded the sound of traffic, and then they played the noise of the road, this otherwise unroaded, forest, during songbird migration season.
[00:22:02] And, you they found very clearly was that, birds tended to avoid that noisy area, and the birds that did stick around, were in worse body condition because, they were sort of constantly having to look around for predators rather than hear them, and they, fed less as a, as a result.
[00:22:19] So they were kind of skinnier and less equipped to, uh, complete their migration. So that was just, you know, kind of a, a brilliant study that, proved, I think very conclusively that, isolating noise as a variable, road noise is, is still a, a huge issue.
[00:22:32] Griff Griffith: Studies such as this one have highlighted the negative implications of noise pollution on species health and richness, where decreasing species abundance has resulted from traffic noise as low as around 45 to 55 decibels.
[00:22:46] Other species such as frogs and toads have been known to adjust their vocal behaviors in the presence of anthropophony by adjusting the frequency or amplitude of their calls or ceasing their calls altogether.
[00:22:59] This may leave the females without the ability to find their mate. Or it could trigger a stress response in them which leaves them immobile.
[00:23:07] Now, the best part about noise pollution is that unlike other forms of pollution, it doesn’t linger once it’s been removed from the environment. You turn off the sound, you start to restore connectivity.
[00:23:17] Remember those large earthen berms I mentioned earlier that have been integrated into the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing? That’s another brilliant example of how landscape architects like Robert Rock consider the different barriers to wildlife connectivity and integrate these considerations into corridors and other connectivity projects, as these walls do a great deal to diffuse noise as well.
[00:23:41] Robert Rock: You put up a sound wall because we hear high and medium frequency sounds, and we want to attenuate those sounds to make our, our lives better on the backside of those walls, so we don’t hear that sound coming off the freeway.
[00:23:52] But the challenge that exists when you’re designing a crossing like this, where we really, truly are restitching the entire ecosystem, is that those areas that are adjacent to the crossing structure themselves will host species that are part of that environment, that have a home range that’s so small that we are creating a home for them.
[00:24:11] We’re creating a home for some of these species that are more impacted by the low frequency sounds than they are by the higher the medium.
[00:24:18] So what we’ve designed are these series of earthen berms that stretch along the freeway in all four directions, off the corners of the structure that are a combination of different layers of material that flank the edge of the roadway and extend back into the habitat area so that we can vegetate the backside of that and create habitat on the backside.
[00:24:39] And create enough mass between the roadway and the habitat that we’re creating to attenuate sound on the order of 20 to 25 decibels.
[00:24:48] Griff Griffith: In cities in Europe, acoustic walls and rubberized roads have been piloted to diffract the sound of traffic. As recognition to this invisible type of obstacle to connectivity becomes more common and these types of solutions become popularized around the world, we’re sure to do a great deal of good for our own health and the health of the species around us.
[00:25:09] I hope it’s clear by now that wildlife connectivity, whether physical, auditory, or visual, is absolutely crucial to preserve The well being of biodiversity and we humans with every additional road or structure we build have made that increasingly difficult. And it’s not just roads and highways that we need to think about. Anywhere we’ve built structures that impede animal movement, anywhere that our artificial lights cut through the dark of night, and anywhere our noises boom through habitats offers us the opportunity to see how we’re impeding wildlife connectivity and try to improve it.
[00:25:42] Beth Pratt: You’re not gonna have wildlife in the future if you keep building more parking lots and start accommodating like electric bikes off trail.
[00:25:50] But yeah, I think, you know, our biggest barrier is us.
[00:25:53] Griff Griffith: But not all hope is lost. There are some incredibly inspiring initiatives taking place across the United States and the world that are successfully working to rebuild these essential links.
[00:26:02] Take the Wallace Annenberg Wildlife Crossing in California as a striking example of human ingenuity and compassion for our fellow living beings.
[00:26:11] Understandably, not all of us can just go out and build wildlife crossings, but there are still little steps that we, as individuals, can take to make a positive difference. For example,
[00:26:21] Beth Pratt: I mean, obviously donating to projects, but volunteering, getting the word out about why this is important.
[00:26:27] But I think the biggest impact you can have is actually just in your own space, whether you have a backyard or an apartment balcony or whatever, put on your wildlife eyes and look at how you may be contributing to the problem. Are you leaving your lights on at night? Do you have lights that are impacting wildlife? If everybody shut off their lights, wow, that would just be an amazing impact.
[00:26:52] Ben Goldfarb: citizen science is really powerful. Or community science or participatory science, you know, whatever, whatever term you wanna use for. that’s kind of one of the, one of the beautiful things about, participatory road ecology is that, it doesn’t really require any, you know, special expertise to identify, you know, a dead raccoon or a skunk, by the side of the road.
[00:27:10] And there are many programs and apps, that collect that data and use that data. And, you know, there are some wonderful case studies community collected data,, informing the location of wildlife crossings or, you know, or, or contributing to, our understanding of the range of species. Roadkill, you know, for all of its tragedy is also this really useful scientific tool.
[00:27:31] Griff Griffith: There’s lots of reasons to have hope.
[00:27:36] Beth Pratt: I do think overall the views of wildlife are changing across the country. Um, some areas it’ll take a lot longer, but you know, science is now showing what or as animal lovers, you know, I grew up with animals my whole life, knew, which is they are capable of emotion, they do have personalities, they have an intrinsic worth.
[00:27:57] we take for granted every day being able to get in our car and driving to the grocery store without being killed, without having to navigate an obstacle course.
[00:28:06] I think if we started thinking about what it would mean if we had to face all these obstacles, we’d have wildlife crossings everywhere.
[00:28:14] And I think the good news is it’s not that we have to give up doing any of these things. We don’t have to give up mountain biking or boating or driving. We just have to do those things with wildlife in mind.
[00:28:25] Griff Griffith: Many of the impediments to connectivity we discussed today happened consistently over generations, and surprisingly, despite being obvious in hindsight, it was not so obvious while it was happening. With the actions we discussed in today’s episode, we can help biodiversity recover.
[00:28:44] But there are many other examples of dramatic generational changes that we miss or misinterpret.
[00:28:49] For example our elders have told us of a time when salmon were so plentiful that you could walk across the river on their backs or a time when you had to pull over your car and wipe all the bugs off your windshield just so you could see the road but current generations may be unaware of this history Due to a phenomenon known as Shifting Baseline Syndrome.
[00:29:10] In episode four, we’ll hear an indigenous perspective, a marine biologist perspective, and an environmental scientist perspective to help us understand how to go from a place of wildlife deficit to creating a story of hope, a story of lots of wildlife coexisting with us as we move forward.
[00:29:28] How do you or will you support connectivity in your own community or even your own backyard? We’d love to hear from you. You can email us at podcast at jumpstart nature. com or leave a comment on one of our social media pages. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and you can also follow our personal Tik Toks. Mine’s @GriffWild.
[00:29:47] And a huge gratitude shout out to Ben Goldfarb, Beth Pratt, and Robert Rock for their contributions to today’s episode. Ben and Beth have also been featured in our sister podcast, Nature’s Archive. If you’re interested in hearing full length interviews about the fascinating world of connectivity and more, check them out.
[00:30:05] Ben Goldfarb also has a wonderful new book out called crossings, which I highly recommend checking out. if you want to learn more about widespread ecological transformations that roads have driven, including many of the topics we’ve touched today, be sure to get his book. I am loving it.
[00:30:23] And be sure to check out jumpstartnature.com/podcast, where we’ll include links to all the resources mentioned during today’s episode, a transcript of the podcast and additional resources to help you learn more about how to support connectivity.
[00:30:37] Michael Hawk: The Jumpstart Nature Podcast was created by myself, Michael Hawk. Today’s episode was written and produced by Michelle Balderston. And our host is Griff Griffith. Thank you for listening.