The Association between Landscape Features and Transportation Corridors on Movements and Habitat-Use Patterns of Wolverines

Wolverines are a rare carnivore that live at low densities and have large spatial requirements; characteristics that leave them vulnerable to both direct and indirect effects of highways. Maintaining connectivity between sub-populations is necessary to allow dispersal for gene flow and recolonization of vacant habitats. The authors captured and monitored 14 wolverines between 2002 and 2005 to determine spatial requirements in relation to major roads in the study area in southwestern Montana, as well as to collect general ecological data. The authors performed 30 backtracks of wolverines to investigate their movements in relation to habitat and topography, and identified locations where wolverines interacted with roads. Wolverine habitat ranged from lower tree line to mountaintops, and did include non-forested valley bottoms. Within this distribution, wolverines did not select for any forest cover type or other habitat variables. Wolverines selected for low elevation, low slope, and low curvature areas where available, yet they were observed traversing the most rugged landscapes, suggesting that wolverines are not constrained by natural topographical features. Wolverines do not appear to be predictive in their movements; therefore, planning highway mitigation for this species is difficult. Crossings of major roads occurred in areas with the narrowest distance between forest cover on each side of the road, suggesting that the width between habitat for road rights-of-way should be an important consideration for highway planning. However, the unpredictable movements of wolverine, combined with their agility, are not well suited for planning structural mitigation projects. While wolverines may prove to use crossing structures implemented for other species, the authors suggest a more effective approach would be to minimize disturbance in general wolverine linkage areas by limiting development through conservation easements and land purchases.

  • Corporate Authors:

    US Forest Service

    Rocky Mountain Research Station, 800 E Beckwith
    Missoula, MT  United States  59807

    Montana Department of Transportation

    2701 Prospect Avenue
    P.O. Box 201001
    Helena, MT  United States  59620-1001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Squires, John R
    • Pletscher, Daniel H
    • Ulizio, Todd J
    • Ruggiero, Leonard F
  • Publication Date: 2006-6


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 59p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01029706
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA/MT-06-005/8171
  • Contract Numbers: MDT Project #8171
  • Created Date: Jul 25 2006 9:17AM