Moose & Corridors 2

A recovery plan, including wildlife corridors, IS appropriate!

MooseMaintenance and enhancement of the Chebucto moose should be a priority for several reasons:

1.The Mainland Moose is a legally protected species, which requires protection of all groups, regardless of size.

  1. The small, more isolated groups could be very important for the long term survival of the Mainland Moose in N.S. It is quite conceivable, for example, that a large percentage of the larger groups, but not of the smaller more isolated groups could be wiped out by disease, and that one or more of these smaller groups would be important to repopulation. Certainly they are numerically sufficient to act as a seed group, judging by the experience of Newfoundland and Cape Breton. There would likely be reduced heterozygosity. However, we suggest that the appropriate strategy is to maintain the Chebucto group and increase its size and heterozygosity by bringing in orphaned moose from N.B. (which are the same genetic lineage, unlike the C.B. moose). As we understand it from the DNR presentation in the spring at Tantallon, the Chebucto group is healthy and the area provides good habitat for them – so why not capitalize on that situation? Also, we understand, their numbers are much more easily monitored than other populations, so they are a good case study for conservation efforts.We discussed at and following the DNR presentation on moose at Tantallon in the spring, the possibility of some restriction of activity on parts of the Bluff Trail seasonally, or even closing down the more remote loops to reduce stress on the moose…citizens are prepared to contribute to moose conservation!

  2. Conservation corridors benefit all species and are critical for long term species richness of all of the protected areas on and adjacent to the Chebucto Peninsula. Corridors are very critical for the long term species richness and broader Ecological Integrity of all protected areas (including parks) on the Chebucto Peninsula and adjacent mainland areas, not just for larger animals mapsuch as moose. See Maps of Potential Corridors and Wilderness Corridors: Habitat for Moose and Mink on the Chebucto Penninsula (C.Wallace et al., 2012). There is a lot of emerging literature in this area. Amongst the key papers:A 2002 paper by Tewksbury et al. (Corridors affect plants, animals, and their interactions in fragmented landscapes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99 (20): 12923 – 12926) reported on a large field-scale experiment designed to test hypotheses about benefits of corridors and alternative designs. In that study they documented that:

…corridors not only increase the exchange of animals between patches, but also facilitate two key plant-animal interactions: pollination and seed dispersal. Our results show that the beneficial effects of corridors extend beyond the area they add, and suggest that increased plant and animal movement through corridors will have positive impacts on plant populations and community interactions in fragmented landscapes.

A 2009 paper by Brudvig et al. (Landscape connectivity promotes plant biodiversity spillover into non-target habitats, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106 (23): 9328 – 9332) introduces the concept of “spillover” (coming from marine fisheries reserves), noting:

Working in the world’s largest corridor experiment, we show that increased richness extends for approximately 30% of the width of the 1-ha connected patches, resulting in 10-18% more vascular plant species around patches of target habitat connected by corridors than around unconnected but otherwise equivalent patches of habitat. Such spillover in effect increases the habitat protecting native species, a huge bonus to constructing them.

The connections provided by corridors are ultimately important for all species in a fragmented landscape. One reason that the significance of corridors is not, perhaps, broadly appreciated, is that the effects of NOT giving priority to this aspect of efforts to protect native landscapes and species may require many years to become obvious. Such effects, however, are predictions of very well based conservation theory and are the basis of concern about future losses by Harvard’s E.O. Wilson. His Rule of Thumb states that for a 90% reduction in total species area, there is on average a 50% reduction in the total species carrying capacity of the area. But that does not mean immediate loss, rather loss over longer periods of time as local populations go extinct and are not repopulated by immigration from connected areas. It might take 10, 50, or even 200 years to begin to see these effects locally, but it is virtually certain that, in the absence of counter measures, they will occur. (An analogy might be zoos that do not have venues for replacement when they lose species.)

  1. The Chebucto moose are potentially an invaluable tool for promoting conservation, perhaps even for bringing additional funds. Large animals capture our imagination and empathy. Think of the challenge: to demonstrate that we, as 21st century humans, can co-exist with this elusive animal that resides next door to an urban population climbing toward half a million. The approach to protecting the Florida panther is a possible model: efforts to protect the Florida panther have received broad support in Florida, even though their long term survival is probably more precarious than that for Nova Scotia’s mainland moose. It has resulted in many conservation areas and corridors being protected, wildlife personnel justifying the expenditures on the basis that it is simply good for conservation as a whole. Sale of license plates featuring the Florida panther provides one source of funds and helps to promote conservation:When you purchase a panther license plate, your donation goes directly to supporting our beautiful cats, .but also because it would help to protect other Panther valuable environmental resources, such as wetlands, aquifer-recharge areas, drinking water supplies and the habitat of other endangered species.In 1982 the students of Florida elected the magnificent Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi) as the official state animal of Florida. A large predator (can grow more than 6 feet in length), panthers play an important role in the ecosystem.

Florida panthers were persecuted to near-extinction out of fear and misunderstanding (folklore refers to them as “catamounts”). The Florida panther was listed on the federal endangered species list in1967, and on the state of Florida’s endangered list in 1973.

See license plates at
Protect The Panther

WhyNotA similar approach to the Chebucto Moose (indeed all moose, and other endangered species) would likely be successful in Nova Scotia. The Piping Plover license plate is an important source of funds for protection of that species in N.S. now. Why not feature Chebucto moose on a special license plate available in HRM and use that, in combination with strong commitments to protection, genetic diversification, corridors etc. to generate public support for conservation efforts? Protection of the Chebucto Moose should hardly be a difficult sell in the homeland of Moosehead hockey and Moosehead beer!