Wildlife Underpass Usage Patterns in Guelph, Ontario
As the City of Guelph continues to expand and develop, encroachment into and around natural heritage features is inevitable. This is exemplified in the Dallan property development which is taking place on the outskirts of a wetlands complex. The development, composed mainly of residential blocks, will result in the near isolation of an ecologically significant wetland. As a result, a 75-100-metre-wide naturalized corridor was constructed to facilitate the continued migration and dispersal of wildlife to and from the isolated wetland.
A monitoring system was put into place to gauge if the corridor has facilitated the migration and dispersal of wildlife. Using a system of trail cameras that produced roughly three million photos, nearly 30 species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds were found to have used the crossing structures between April and October 2016. Because of their unique vulnerability to roads and need to migrate and disperse as part of their lifecycles, amphibians were the focus of the monitoring effort. Nearly 800 amphibian crossing events were captured, exhibiting fascinating patterns based on time of day, time of year, substrate material, local weather patterns, and species. Of the two tunnel floor linings, the gravel substrate seemed to be the more favourable, facilitating quicker passage and lower rates of hesitance. Extensive monitoring of tunnel usage will continue in the following years as construction of the development progresses.