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Zeller, Kathy


Wildlife Corridor Design


Kevin McGarigal and Andrew Whiteley



National Science Foundation
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Graduate School

Project Abstract:

The inability of protected areas to house viable populations of species and the rapid loss of natural habitats outside of protected areas have elevated the importance of wildlife corridors as a conservation tool. Wildlife corridors have also been promoted for their ability to facilitate dispersal, which in turn, may increase a population’s chances for persistence by counteracting genetic drift and inbreeding. However, methods behind the design of wildlife corridors have not been formally vetted against one another, leaving the utility of many proposed corridors in question.

My proposed research is primarily a methods testing for corridor design. My first objective is to investigate the importance of choice of environmental parameters and their representation (grain, extent and functional form). In collaboration with Drs. Walter Boyce and Winston Vickers at University of California, Davis, I will use data from a long term study on cougars southern California, and in collaboration with Drs. Sam Cushman and Jesse Lewis, I will use data from black bears in northern Idaho. My second objective is to use these data, both genetic and telemetry, with a suite of commonly-used analytical processes to quantify a series of connectivity surfaces. A subset of data will be used to estimate the relative accuracy of the different methods.

By using multiple species across different study areas, I hope to find some general trends across taxa which may provide guidance for future corridor research and conservation efforts and help ensure the design of more functional wildlife corridors.


Zeller, K.A., K. McGarigal, S.A. Cushman, P. Beier, T.W. Vickers, and W.M. Boyce. In prep. Using path selection functions for estimating resistance to movement: pumas as a case study.

Zeller, K.A., T. G. Creech, K.L. Millette, R.S. Crowhurst, R.A. Long, H.H. Wagner, N. Balkenhol, E.L. Landguth. In prep. A simulation-based evaluation of the causal modeling approach to assessing landscape resistance to gene flow.

Zeller, K.A., K. McGarigal, P. Beier, S.A. Cushman, T.W. Vickers, and W.M. Boyce. 2014. ­Sensitivity of landscape resistance estimates based on point selection functions to scale and behavioral state: pumas as a case study. Landscape Ecology 29: 541-557.

Zeller, K.A, A. Rabinowitz, R. Salom-Perez, and H.Quigley. 2013. The Jaguar Corridor Initiative: A range-wide conservation strategy. In M. Ruiz-Garcia and J.M. Shostell (Eds.) Molecular Population Genetics, Evolutionary Biology and Biological Conservation of Neotropical Carnivores. Nova Publishers. Pp. 629-658.

Cushman, S.A., B. McRae, F. Adriaensen, P. Beier, M. Shirley, and K.A. Zeller. 2013. Biological Corridors and Connectivity. In D. MacDonald and K. Willis (Eds.) Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2. Wiley-Blackwell. Pp. 384-404.

Zeller, K.A., K. McGarigal, and A. Whiteley. 2012. Estimating landscape resistance to movement: A review. Landscape Ecology 27:777-797.

Zeller, K.A. and A. Rabinowitz. 2011. Using Geographic Information Systems for Range-wide Species Conservation Planning. In C.J. Dawsen (Ed.) Geographic Information Systems. Nova Publishers. Pp. 85-105.

Zeller, K.A., S. Nijhawan, J. Hines, R. Salom-Perez, and S. Hernandez. 2011. Integrating Site Occupancy Modeling and Interview Data for Identifying Jaguar (Panthera onca) Corridors: A case study from Nicaragua. Biological Conservation 144: 892-901.

Salom-Pérez, R., J. Polisar, H. Quigley and K.A. Zeller. 2010. Iniciativa del Corredor del Jaguar: Un Corredor Biológico y un Compromiso a Largo Plazo para la Conservación. Mesoamericana 14: 25-34.

Rabinowitz, A., and K. A. Zeller. 2010. A Range-wide model of landscape connectivity and conservation for the jaguar, Panthera onca. Biological Conservation 143: 939-945.

Zeller, K.A. 2007. Jaguars in the New Millennium Data Set Update: The State of the Jaguar in 2006. Wildlife Conservation Society Report. Bronx, NY.


Page updated: September 23, 2014