The Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Siberian tiger, is an endangered species in the Russian Far East that has experienced a sharp population decline during the past century (Tian et al. 2011, 3166). Roads may be one of the primary factors for the dramatic decline of tiger population because the species most sensitive to roads tend to be large carnivores that rely on large movement ranges and have low reproductive rates (Fahrig and Rytwinski 2009, 1 and Tian et al. 2011, 3166). Tigers (Panthera tigris) are an example of such fragile large carnivores; as a result there are only six of nine tiger subspecies remaining in the wild to date (Kerley et al. 2002, 98 and Tian et al. 2011, 3166). Once found in Russia, China, Mongolia, and Korea, Amur tigers are one of the six remaining subspecies now found exclusively in the Russian Far East (Tian et al. 2011, 3166) (Fig. 1A). According to census data, there are about 400 adult individuals left in the wild, officially making Amur tigers an endangered species (Kerley et al. 2002, 98 and Miquelle et al. 2005). While many regions, such as the Sikhote-Alin State Biosphere zapovednik in the Russian Far East, are highly protected lands with minimal human disturbances, Amur tigers still suffer from the direct effects of roads in this region (Kerley et al. 2002, 99). In addition, increased road construction in the Primorsky Krai and Khabarovsk Krai regions of Russia beginning in the early 90s resulted in a road network extending well into the Russian Far East allowing for easier access to once uninhabited land (Fig. 1B). Despite increasing concerns about tiger conservation and the push for mass road construction, research linking roads and tigers is lacking. The purpose of this study is to create the link between road construction and Amur tigers in the Russian Far East through data analysis from two general categories: transportation and Amur tiger population. I review transportation and Amur tiger population data compiled before analyzing the relationship between the two. This study is important to aid in the creation of efficient conservation strategies for Amur tigers and to prevent their imminent extinction.
Paper prepared for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar/Geography Capstone.
Cohan, Elizabeth. "Road Construction and Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in the Russian Far East." Paper for Environmental Studies Senior Seminar/Geography Capstone, University of Richmond, April 2012.