The Future for Maricopa’s Wildlife
The growth of Arizona’s human population and expanding infrastructure has consequences for Maricopa County’s wildlife species and the habitats on which they depend. While human activities can adversely affect Maricopa County’s wildlife by causing direct loss or degradation of habitat, the disruption of wildlife movement patterns is a less obvious but equally important consequence. All animals move across the landscape to varying extents in order to acquire the resources necessary for survival: food, water, protective cover, and mates. Mountain lions, black bears, and mule deer roam over vast expanses that can encompass thousands of acres, while smaller animals such as desert tortoise and kit fox engage in essential movements on a much smaller scale. There is also variation in the temporal patterns of animal movement: some animal movements occur on a daily basis, while seasonal migrations may occur annually, and the dispersal of young from their natal sites to secure new breeding territories happens only once in an individual’s lifetime. Man-made barriers such as roads, urban areas, utility-scale solar projects, and railroads can affect each of these movement patterns and may pose a threat to the long-term persistence of wildlife populations.
The report available below provides background information on the importance and benefits of conserving wildlife linkages for both people and wildlife in Maricopa County, and describes the methods used in our stakeholder workshops held in 2008 and for developing the accompanying GIS products. It includes a series of maps generated from the digitized stakeholder data that depict the general locations of wildlife linkages and potential barriers to wildlife movement. The maps are followed by tables with descriptive information about the habitat areas each linkage connects, the species each linkage serves, and known threats and potential conservation opportunities associated with each linkage and barrier. The information in this report reflects the views and expertise of workshop participants and likely does not represent an exhaustive mapping of all important wildlife linkages and barriers across Maricopa County. It should instead be considered an initial assessment of wildlife movement patterns to be supplemented in the future by further analysis and refinement that includes additional expert input, GIS-based linkage modeling, and research studies of wildlife movement patterns.
Additional information on connectivity in Maricopa County can be obtained by contacting the Department’s Region 6 (Mesa Office) Habitat Program at 480-981-9400. GIS data can be obtained from either the Region 6 Habitat Program or the Department’s GIS Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Results from the Maricopa County Wildlife Connectivity Assessment
Maricopa County Wildlife Connectivity Assessment: Report on Stakeholder Input [pdf]
Maricopa County Wildlife Connectivity Assessment: Stakeholder Input GIS Datasets (available by contacting the Department’s Region 6 Habitat Program or the Department’s GIS Program as listed above)