Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gas development linked to wildlife habitat loss

Date:
May 2, 2012
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
Intense development of the two largest natural gas fields in the continental U.S. are driving away some wildlife from their traditional wintering grounds, new research shows.

A study by the Wildlife Conservation Society documents that intense development of the two largest natural gas fields in the continental U.S. are driving away pronghorn from their traditional wintering grounds.
Credit: Julie Larsen Maher WCS

A study by the Wildlife Conservation Society documents that intense development of the two largest natural gas fields in the continental U.S. are driving away some wildlife from their traditional wintering grounds.

Researchers tracking 125 female pronghorn in Wyoming's vast Jonah and PAPA gas fields using GPS collars discovered an 82 percent decline of habitat classified as "highest quality" -- meaning highest probability of use for wintering animals. Widespread natural gas development in these areas, which are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, has led to a sharp increase in well pads, roads, and other associated infrastructure. This in turn is driving pronghorn to the periphery of areas historically classified as crucial winter ranges, the five-year study says.

The study appears in the March, 2012 print edition of the journal Biological Conservation. Authors include Jon Beckmann and Rene Seidler of WCS; Kim Murray of Institute for Systems Biology; and Joel Berger of the University of Montana and WCS.

"In our study we have detected behavioral shifts for pronghorn in response to natural gas field development and infrastructure on federal BLM lands," said Jon Beckmann of WCS's North America Program and lead author. "By detecting behavioral changes, it is possible to identify threshold levels of gas field infrastructure development before any significant population declines. Maintaining the integrity of crucial wintering areas is particularly important in harsh winters to avoid diminishing pronghorn numbers."

WCS has developed recommendations to protect pronghorn on BLM lands. Some of the recommendations include: baseline data being collected on population sizes and distribution prior to any development occurring. Data would then be used to define crucial winter range and keep development levels lower in key areas. Habitat and population levels should be monitored over time in both the gas fields and in similar control sites where no gas is being developed using scientifically rigorous methods to examine impacts of gas fields. Directional drilling should be used to reduce surface disturbance and limit habitat loss and fragmentation.

Fifty percent of North America's pronghorn live in Wyoming, which are declining in other parts of the U.S. Herds from throughout the western half of the state winter in the region where the gas fields are located including the herd from Grand Teton National Park that conducts the longest overland migration in the continental U.S. Herds that were attracted to the mesa above the natural gas deposits with windswept flat terrain and subsequent lack of deep snow are now being forced into less desirable areas.

The authors warn that pronghorn can only lose so much winter range before they will begin to decline in population. Mule deer have already declined by more than 50 percent from this region.

Joel Berger, a WCS co-author on the study, said: "Ultimately this is a policy issue for petroleum extraction on U.S. public lands. In several cases science indicates that petroleum developments have had negative impacts on wildlife. We are hopeful that studies like these will inform future energy development on public lands in the West."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jon P. Beckmann, Kim Murray, Renee G. Seidler, Joel Berger. Human-mediated shifts in animal habitat use: Sequential changes in pronghorn use of a natural gas field in Greater Yellowstone. Biological Conservation, 2012; 147 (1): 222 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2012.01.003

Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Gas development linked to wildlife habitat loss." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120502133000.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2012, May 2). Gas development linked to wildlife habitat loss. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120502133000.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Gas development linked to wildlife habitat loss." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120502133000.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins