Habitat connectivity of European Bison in the Carpathians- bringing together subpopulations of an almost extinct species in the wild
Elzbieta has been working with potential habitat connectivity at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Management of the Jagiellonian University in Poland. There, she has applied her backgrounds in both mathematics and geography to understand habitat and animal movements. Her work is based on graph theory, a mathematical method used in both natural and social sciences. Not to be confused with graphs describing phenomena such as human population growth, graph theory models consist of nodes that are connected by edges. Nodes in her studies correspond to habitat patches and the edges represent connections or potential corridors between them. The cost surface models she uses to delineate potential corridors include both biological and environmental variables such as land cover, rivers, lakes, roads and highways. Although the graph theory perspective she uses could be applied to many animal species, she is currently focusing on the European Bison in the Carpathians.
Tobias Kuemmerle, a Silvis lab alumnus and Volker Radeloff have modeled European bison habitat patterns in the Carpathians, and that is why Elzbieta established contact with them. As part of their collaboration, Elzbieta is now a visiting member of the Silvis lab for a couple of months. Tobias Kuemmerle and Volker Radeloff work on European Bison distribution had benefited Elzbieta with input for her models. Together, they are hoping that results of this project will help policy makers and landscape managers by showing them the best areas to allocate new bison herds in order to connect current Carpathian population. This could also help create biological corridors for other species at the same time that European bison connectivity is supported.