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Paul Beier

Regents' Professor Conservation Biology & Wildlife Ecology, School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University

PhD in Wildland Resource Science, University of California, Berkeley

Some 30 years ago, Paul Beier documented that young mountain lions find and use habitat corridors between mountain ranges in urban southern California. That triggered a long career in science-based design of wildlife corridors, unabashed activism for conserving them on the ground, and long-term engagement with managers to ensure best use of science in decision-making. Paul has published 31 scientific papers related to wildlife linkage design. Working with management agencies, he helped co-produce two statewide connectivity maps (Arizona Wildlife Linkage Assessment, California Essential Habitat Connectivity), 60 detailed linkage designs in California and Arizona, and Bhutan’s national framework for implementing wildlife corridors.

Paul is working with CLLC on 2 major efforts. One is a global review of some 200 “connectivity conservation plans” around the globe, with the goal of identifying factors associated with successful implementation of such plans. The second is a global research project, co-led by Andrew Gregory, to answer the question What corridor width and how much freedom from human disturbance is needed for a corridor to be successful? Paul has long worried that his corridor designs might be too narrow to provide meaningful connectivity (a total waste of dollars invested), or conversely that they might be too wide (and thus cost millions of dollars more than needed). The problem is that most of what we think we know about the effectiveness of corridors comes from about 80 experiments on “model systems” that do not resemble the types of corridors envisioned by real-world conservation efforts. This mega-project will study 31 landscapes on 6 continents; each landscape has a big corridor through cities and farms that have abutted the corridor for at least 50 years such that we can use gene flow to study the long-term success (or failure) of corridors. Paul views this project as his most important contribution to science and conservation.

Beier’s corridor conservation plans in California were produced in collaboration with Science & Collaboration for Wildlands (www.scwildlands.org), a non-profit that Beier co-founded in 2001 (serving as President 2008-2017). That organization not only designs science-based corridor conservation plans, but also implements those plans by partnering with transportation agencies, real-estate and energy developers, local government and others. He was President of the Society for Conservation Biology during 2011-2013. He is currently Regents’ Professor of Conservation Biology at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Paul also enjoys trail-running, gardening, and backpacking – especially his 26 annual backpacking trips with his daughter Celia and his 24 annual backpacking trips with his daughter Michele. He loves living in a region so vast and wild that he’s never done the same trip twice.