Road Ecology - Moving Forward
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
314, Baltimore Convention Center
Kevin W. Floyd
The road network continues to expand, and traffic volumes continue to increase. Roads have been implicated in negative effects on ecosystem function and biodiversity, and these effects are only likely to increase. It is critical that researchers and managers understand the impacts of roads and how best to mitigate them. Early studies on the ways that roads and traffic impacted the natural world focused on animals: how many and what types were being killed, and how their dispersal was being limited. The work was largely focused on large mammals, driven by the economic costs of vehicle-wildlife collisions. Recent work still addresses these questions, but the scope and techniques used have dramatically expanded. Our objective with this session is to highlight some of these advances, and point to new ways forward in road ecology. Studies now address how roads impact the populations of all types of taxa, from insects to frogs to moose. The locations of “roadkill hotspots” and important habitat features associated with them are identified, and wildlife crossing structures are being installed in these locations. The crossing structures are monitored to evaluate their effectiveness at mitigation. Molecular techniques are expanding our ability to detect impacts on genetic diversity and gene flow. We are also looking beyond the pavement, with studies on how frogs and birds adjust their calls in response to road noise, and deal with the stress created by dealing with road noise. Some populations are even evolving in response to the new environment created by roads and road pollution. Roads can also act as dispersal corridors, sometime allowing invasive species to spread. We believe that this diverse collection of talks will help guide the continued expansion and increasing sophistication of road ecology. Researchers and managers alike should leave with new questions and new techniques to apply in their practices.