The Passaic River Institute (PRI), a research center housed in MSU’s College of Science and Mathematics, has just embarked on a long-term study of fish and wildlife habitat throughout the state. PRI has partnered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to study the issue of habitat fragmentation, a problem that occurs when fish and wildlife cannot access needed habitat because of urban development or other land uses. According to Kevin Zerbe, a doctoral student and research assistant at PRI, “New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, and fish and wildlife often have difficulty migrating from one area of habitat to another. Roads, bridges, and other developments present dangers to animals and humans alike when animals are forced to use them for migrations, so it really is a benefit to all to make sure wildlife habitat is more connected.”
To better understand just how fragmented wildlife habitat in New Jersey is, researchers at PRI will be going throughout the state and collecting data at more than 150 unique sites over the next three years. The hope is that this data can then be used to restore areas where habitat improvements are needed and begin the process of reconnecting habitat for aquatic and terrestrial animals.