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Title: Weaving Indigenous knowledge and western science to investigate the impacts of railways on wildlife
Authors: Vincent, Kyle D.
Keywords: Indigenous knowledge,;railway ecology,;transportation infrastructure,;species-at- risk,;reptiles;amphibians;conservation;First Nation
Issue Date: 29-Sep-2022
Abstract: Railways have been documented to cause mortalities for many different species, but overall, the ecological impacts of railways are under-researched and poorly understood. To date, railway ecology research has mainly focused on large mammals, but to develop effective railway mitigation, it is important to understand risks for underrepresented taxa. My aim was to use a Two-Eyed Seeing approach that weaved Indigenous knowledge and western science to improve understanding of railway ecology for understudied species and to help guide future mitigation efforts. In partnership with two First Nations, community members were invited to share Indigenous knowledge (IK) of wildlife-railway interactions to inform study design, then I conducted weekly visual surveys over three field seasons along two 3.6 km sections of railway in Eastern Georgian Bay, Ontario, recording the locations of live and dead wildlife. I recorded 462 observations of individuals from 42 different species, of which 76% were found dead, and 24% were encountered alive, findings complemented by shared IK. Reptiles and amphibians were the most severely impacted taxa, accounting for 87% of observed mortalities. Additionally, I identified hotspots of turtle and anuran interactions, and found that the locations of interactions were related to adjacent habitat use and railway features. Ultimately, this study highlights the value of collaborative research that uses complementary knowledge systems, indicates that reptiles and amphibians may be particularly susceptible to railway mortality, and identifies areas to target future mitigation both locally and in relation to broad scale landscape features for turtles and anurans.
Appears in Collections:Biology - Master's Theses

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