Habitat fragmentation often occurs when urban development divides large patches of wildlife habitat into smaller, discontinuous patches, thereby restricting wildlife movement. This is an especially prevalent issue in New Jersey, which is the most densely developed state in the U.S. and has an extensive road network.
Most recently, the NJCWST partnered with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) for a long-term, statewide habitat connectivity project: the Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) program, which aims to resolve NJ’s habitat fragmentation problem by assessing road-stream crossings, such as bridges and culverts, and prioritize restoration needs to reconnect the fragmented habitats for both aquatic and terrestrial species. The data collected will help to reveal whether fragmentation is occurring in key fish and wildlife habitat “cores” throughout the state, and reveal potential migration corridors connecting these cores. This information will then be used to identify necessary restoration and improve connectivity where needed. NJCWST researchers have also been instrumental in creating and evaluating herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) road crossing structures in New Jersey; road mortality has a tremendous impact on our urban herpetofauna populations, and is a major factor contributing to population decline.