In an interesting post on the Nature of Cities forum, Dr. Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida describes how human design decisions influence decisions by wildlife. In short, it is much more complicated than simply preserving nature spaces or establishing wildlife migratory corridors wherever most convenient in our human landscape. Dr. Hostetler points out that effective design must begin with asking "For which wildlife species?" Different species will react differently to a given space - the space topography, relative size and position of things like trees or bushes, the proximity of more human spaces. In Dr. Hostetler's words, "There is a direct connection between the design decisions made at different scales and the distribution of wildlife species within a region!" Moreover, he points out that these decisions are only the beginning. Nearby residents should be involved in the design, but also the long-term stewardship and refinement of human-designed sites for wildlife.
The University of Minnesota Extension offers a variety of research and resources to help Minnesotan's design for wildlife. Dr. Robert Blair, Extension Specialist in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education has research in review about the value of park reserves to migrating landbirds in an urban area. Extension Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. John Loegering operates a monitoring station to better understand how songbirds migrate through edges of prairies. Visit the Fish, Wildlife and Habitats website for information about University of Minnesota research, the natural history of Minnesota plants and animals, attracting wildlife to yards and gardens, or dealing with nuisance wildlife.