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 August 20, 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 August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
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