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Media Contact:
Dr. Nick Haddad, 919/515-4588
Lauren Gregg, News Services, 919/515-3470

Apr. 7, 2006

NC State Researchers Begin $1.6 Million Study to Conserve Endangered Species on Military Lands


It may come as a surprise to many that military bases are areas where endangered species can thrive. At Fort Bragg military base in Fayetteville, however, researchers are working to conserve habitats – both in and around the base – that are home to a variety of rare and endangered species.

Dr. Nick Haddad, assistant professor of zoology at North Carolina State University, is one of a group of researchers who have received a $1.6 million grant to determine where best to concentrate conservation efforts at Fort Bragg. NC State will collaborate with Duke University,
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Virginia Tech in the five-year study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.

“Our goal is to have a practical tool that the military can use both at Fort Bragg and at bases throughout the Southeast to help them plan where to concentrate their conservation efforts,” Haddad said.

Traditionally, conservation efforts in the Fort Bragg area have focused on the red-cockaded woodpecker. This bird is one of the nation’s rarest species; it has the greatest habitat requirements and is among the most threatened. However, there are other rare species that also
call this area home, Haddad said. The endangered St. Francis’ satyr butterfly, for example, is
found only at Fort Bragg. The Carolina gopher frog and the tiger salamander are two other rare
species found at Fort Bragg that will be included in the study.

Haddad and his colleagues are working to find out whether habitat conservation efforts for the red-cockaded woodpecker will also attract other rare species to the area and preserve the
biodiversity of the landscape.

The second focus of the project is to create connections between habitats and landscapes,
Haddad said. A popular idea in conservation is to create habitat corridors, which are strips of
land that connect one big area of habitat to another.

Fort Bragg is situated in the long leaf pine savanna forest and is surrounded by nature preserves such as the Sandhills Game Land and Weymouth Woods. One of the ways that Fort Bragg officials are thinking of targeting their conservation funding is by building corridors that link these habitats to the base, which will help connect populations of red-cockaded woodpeckers and other rare species. This study will help officials determine where the best places are to build
these connections.

“This research will work to find out if connecting these habitats is the most effective way to conserve both the land and the species that call it home,” Haddad said.

The last stage of the project is to look at how these habitat corridor connections affect dispersal of the species. By examining the movement behaviors of these animals and following them as they move from one habitat to another, researchers can project how these connections will affect animals as they move across larger landscapes, which cannot easily be observed.

Haddad will receive $250,000 of the grant in order to focus on studying the movement patterns of the St. Francis satyr butterfly, the Tiger salamander and the Carolina gopher frog.

“This study is important because the behaviors of these species are indicators of what is
happening to the ecosystem, illustrating what other species may need our help,” Haddad said.
“These ecosystems are important because they help provide clean air, clean water and other
environmental services that we take for granted.”

- gregg -


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