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Natural Resources & Energy

University Of Wyoming Scientists Will Contribute To Global Migration Map

Deer migration
Joe Riis
Wyoming Migration Initiative

Researchers from the University of Wyoming are part of a worldwide effort to map big game migration.

The team involves nearly 100 collaborators across the globe, including scientists, land managers, and conservationists.

Jerod Merkle, a UW assistant professor in zoology and physiology, said they get animal locations from GPS collars. Using that data, the team makes maps of migration routes.

"When you have a map of animal movement or corridors or routes, you know places that these animals move between," he said. "Once you get the map, it's much easier to facilitate conservation."

With detailed maps, Merkle said researchers can see where migration routes run into fences and roads. That can help determine where to place an overpass or underpass.

"You can take this map of the corridor, the migration route, and overlay it onto a land use planning map or a current road map," he said. "With very simple visualization or analyses, you can extract where the things intersect."

Merkle said other countries face the same barriers to migration as Wyoming. This project will be the first effort to map big game migration on such a large scale.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.

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