Road ecology: recent research into getting wildlife over and under transportation barriers

As road networks multiply across the globe, keeping species connected and avoiding wildlife-vehicle collisions remain top conservation priorities.  New research provides examples and recommendations for keeping linear infrastructure from blocking important corridors in the landscape.

Find more road ecology studies, along with current research from around the globe, in our newly expanded Library.

 

  • The siting and development of wildlife crossing structures can be contentious, depending on their purpose and the type of data and algorithms used to determine optimal locations.  Two new algorithms, tested on African elephants near the proposed Lamu Port‐South Sudan‐Ethiopia‐Transport corridor, highlight the challenges in planning crossing structures and the need for managers to consider data structure and potential biases when in the planning stage.

Bastille-Rousseau, G., J. Wall, I. Douglas-Hamilton, and G. Wittemyer. 2018. Optimizing the positioning of wildlife crossing structures using GPS telemetry. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13117.

  • A high risk road for mammals in northeast Iran acts as a hotspot for wildlife-vehicle collisions, including for the endangered Asiatic cheetah.  The road crosses a critical cheetah corridor, and several species would benefit from measures such as the installation of culverts and fences.

Mohammadi A., K. Almasieh, A. P. Clevenger, F. Fatemizadeh, A. Rezaei, H. Jowkar, and M. Kaboli. 2018. Road expansion: a challenge to conservation of mammals, with particular emphasis on the endangered Asiatic cheetah in Iran. Journal for Nature Conservation 43: 8-18.

  • Small bridges and culverts that act as wildlife crossings are often understudied in China and their efficacy is unknown. Camera traps along the Qinghai-Tibet railway of the biodiverse Tietan Plateau reveal that these structures are used by 13 different mammal species, including listed species such as wild yak, mountain weasels, and wolves.

Wang Y., L. Guan, J. Chen, and Y. Kong. 2018. Influences on mammals frequency of use of small bridges and culverts along the Qinghai-Tibet railway, China. Ecological Research. DOI: 10.1007/s11284-018-1578-0.

  • Tigers in central India are restricted to protected areas and forest fragments surrounded by human settlements and high traffic roads.  Both traffic intensity and density of human settlements increase resistance to movement, but in a non-linear way.  India has the second largest road network in the world, but tigers may be able to cross roads if they maintain a low volume of traffic.

Thatte, P., A. Joshi, S. Vaidyanathan, E. Landguth, and U. Ramakrishnan. 2018. Maintaining tiger connectivity and minimizing extinction into the next century: insights from landscape genetics and spatially-explicit simulations. Biological Conservation 218: 181-191.

  • Wolverines are especially sensitive to the effects of roads, and may alter their behavior to avoid them in the same manner they might avoid a predator. Movement patterns showed that wolverines in northern Alberta both avoided and increased their speed near roads, which suggests they may select against roadside habitats. Reclaiming unused roads, clustering high-traffic roads, and limiting road use during denning periods may help wolverine populations and maintain habitat connectivity.

Scrafford, M. A., T. Avgar, R. Heeres, and M. S. Boyce. 2018. Roads elicit negative movement and habitat-selection responses by wolverines (Gulo gulo luscus). Behavioral Ecology 29: 534-542.

Resources

Bastille-Rousseau, G., J. Wall, I. Douglas-Hamilton, and G. Wittemyer. 2018. Optimizing the positioning of wildlife crossing structures using GPS telemetry. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13117.

Mohammadi A., K. Almasieh, A. P. Clevenger, F. Fatemizadeh, A. Rezaei, H. Jowkar, and M. Kaboli. 2018. Road expansion: a challenge to conservation of mammals, with particular emphasis on the endangered Asiatic cheetah in Iran. Journal for Nature Conservation 43: 8-18.

Scrafford, M. A., T. Avgar, R. Heeres, and M. S. Boyce. 2018. Roads elicit negative movement and habitat-selection responses by wolverines (Gulo gulo luscus). Behavioral Ecology 29: 534-542.

Thatte, P., A. Joshi, S. Vaidyanathan, E. Landguth, and U. Ramakrishnan. 2018. Maintaining tiger connectivity and minimizing extinction into the next century: insights from landscape genetics and spatially-explicit simulations. Biological Conservation 218: 181-191.

Wang Y., L. Guan, J. Chen, and Y. Kong. 2018. Influences on mammals frequency of use of small bridges and culverts along the Qinghai-Tibet railway, China. Ecological Research. DOI: 10.1007/s11284-018-1578-0.

 

2018-05-16T11:04:25+00:00 May 15th, 2018|

About the Author:

Heather Cayton
Heather Cayton is the Managing Director of ConservationCorridor.org and a Research Assistant at Michigan State University. She received her B.S. from the University of Virginia and her M.S. from Virginia Tech, and has spent the past nine years studying corridors and rare butterflies in North Carolina.