Mapping migration corridors

Some of the longest movements wildlife make each year are seasonal migrations. For terrestrial, or land-based animals, these movements can be hundreds of miles one way. Migration is critical to the health of many wildlife populations because it allows animals to access feed and other resources at the time of year when they are abundant. It also allows animals to respond to harsh environmental conditions (e.g., deep snow) that may significantly reduce their survival.

Migration corridors are the paths that animals use to travel between summer and winter habitats. The knowledge of these areas is often passed down from generation to generation of wildlife species, so the same corridors are consistently used year after year. Migration corridors are not only important movement pathways, but also provide critical seasonal resources when animals stop over for short periods within corridors.

In our modern world, it can be difficult for animals, especially land animals, to move long distances. Seasonal migrations may take animals across busy roads, over fences or through human developments. These obstacles can act as barriers to migration or increase the chance that the animal will be killed while migrating. However, by documenting migration corridors, we can help reduce the impacts that humans have on wildlife movement.

To map migration corridors, biologists and researchers place small GPS tracking devices on animals to monitor their movements. The tracking data is then analyzed with sophisticated modeling techniques that produce maps to show where corridors are and how often they are being used. Corridor maps are especially useful for land-use planning because they highlight areas that facilitate the movement of large numbers of animals. Use the map below to explore the locations of migration corridors in Utah.