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Arboreal wildlife bridges in the tropical rainforest of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula

journal contribution
posted on 20.04.2022, 07:05 by Eleanor Flatt, Arianna Basto, Carolina Pinto, Johan Ortiz, Kassandra Navarro, Neil Reed, Hilary Brumberg, Marco Hidalgo Chaverri, Andrew Whitworth
Linear infrastructures, especially roads, affect the integrity of natural habitats worldwide. Roads act as a barrier to animal movement, cause mortality, decrease gene flow and increase the probability of local extinctions, particularly for arboreal species. Arboreal wildlife bridges increase connectivity of fragmented forests by allowing wildlife to safely traverse roads. However, the majority of studies about such infrastructure are from Australia, while information on lowland tropical rainforest systems in Meso and South America remains sparse. To better facilitate potential movement between forest areas for the arboreal wildlife community of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, we installed and monitored the early use of 12 arboreal wildlife bridges of three different designs (single rope, double rope, and ladder bridges). We show that during the first 6 months of monitoring via camera traps, 7 of the 12 bridges were used, and all bridge designs experienced wildlife activity (mammals crossing and birds perching). A total of 5 mammal species crossing and 3 bird species perching were observed. In addition to preliminary results of wildlife usage, we also provide technical information on the bridge site selection process, bridge construction steps, installation time, and overall associated costs of each design. Finally, we highlight aspects to be tested in the future, including additional bridge designs, monitoring approaches, and the use of wildlife attractants.