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Effects of roads on wildlife in an intensively modified landscape

By Jackie E Underhill and Penny G Angold

Abstract

This paper examines the ecological impacts arising from road networks and the potential ameliorating effects of roadside habitat in a highly modified landscape. A U.K. focus has been adopted to illustrate the effects of roads in a landscape with a long history of land use and intensive land management where the impacts and the potential for improvement are considerable. The impacts of roads in the ecological landscape include habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation. These interrupt and modify natural processes altering community structures and in the longer term, population dynamics. The large number of fauna fatalities each year from road traffic accidents is also of concern. Road verges can however also provide habitat opportunities and restore connectivity in an otherwise fragmented landscape offering potential to offset some of the adverse impacts of the existing road network. This review demonstrates that roads can present both ecological costs and ecological benefits although currently there is insufficient evidence to confirm some of the key theories which relate to the impact of the barrier effects (at population level) or the value of road verges as ecological corridors. In the absence of complete information the full extent of the problems and opportunities cannot be gauged and every effort should be made therefore to enhance the habitat adjacent to existing roads and to constrain further fragmentation caused by the development of the existing road network. Where further construction is unavoidable conditions should be enforced to prevent roads from reducing further the remaining habitats of conservation value and the connectivity between such habitats

Topics: GE Environmental Sciences, QH Natural history
Publisher: National Research Council Canada
Year: 2000
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.bham.ac.uk:43

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