Keynote speaker: Anthony P. Clevenger
We are happy to welcome several keynote speakers at the IENE 2018 conference. Tony Clevenger is one of them. He obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. His early involvement in wildlife research was focused primarily on carnivore ecology, which led him to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he studied black bear ecology for a Master’s Degree (1986). A continued interest in bears, a desire to travel, and recognizing lack of research on Eurasian brown bears, he developed a cooperative research project between Spain and the US in 1985. The 3-year project turned into a Doctoral degree in Zoology from the Universidad de León (1990) and 11 years researching southern European brown bears and small carnivores in the Balearic Islands. In 1996, he moved to Canada and began research on, at that time, a dozen wildlife underpasses in Banff National Park, Alberta. The last 10 years Tony has worked with colleagues in Latin America providing training courses in road mitigation practices to government agencies and consultancies and look forward to continuing in that direction. Since 2002, he has been a research wildlife biologist for the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University, while residing near Banff National Park. He has published over 70 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and co-authored three books, including Road Ecology: Science and Solutions. When not in his office or doing fieldwork, Tony can be found in the backcountry hiking, skiing, or in pools, lakes or oceans swimming long distances.
The title of his keynote presentation will be: Through the lens of time: Long-term research integrating behavior, landscape ecology and conservation along the Trans-Canada Highway. Canada’s Rocky Mountain front harbors the richest diversity of large mammals remaining in North America. This landscape is among the continent’s last remaining undisturbed natural areas and provides a critical trans-boundary linkage with the United States. Maintaining landscape connectivity throughout the ecoregion has been a key conservation strategy. Regional scale connectivity is the prime objective, however, securing local-scale connections across highways are equally important and necessary for landscape connectivity to be achieved. Banff National Park and its environs represent one of the best testing sites of innovative highway mitigation in the world. The Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) bisects Banff and Yoho National Parks and has been identified as a major landscape stressor. Beginning in 1982, Banff National Park embarked on a phased-mitigation program that would span 30 years and result in 44 crossing structures built on 82 km of highway bisecting a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From 1996 to 2014, Tony directed long-term research assessing the impacts of highways and performance of mitigation measures designed to reduce fragmentation of wildlife populations and increase landscape connectivity. His research evolved from the basic questions of: Do wildlife use the crossing structures and what attributes facilitate passage? And do the measures reduce road-related mortality of wildlife? Our non-invasive genetic approach to whether the Banff crossings have restored demographic and genetic connectivity was a logical and necessary next step. From that work, he demonstrated that crossings are capable of restoring movements, gene flow and demographic connectivity, thus are functional at a higher ecosystem level. Recently he identified a key mechanism of demographic and genetic connectivity, i.e., how to move breeding females across road barriers. By ensuring that key ecological processes are connected, Banff’s highway mitigation is arguably one of Canada’s greatest conservation success stories.