Guide Safe Passages: Highways, Wildlife, and Habitat Connectivity

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Increasing cars and car speeds and increasing numbers of ungulates—the group of animals most commonly reported in accidents—have resulted in more animal-vehicle collisions.

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These wildlife-vehicle collisions are probably the main reason that society has been increasingly interested in the need to address wildlife-vehicle collisions and the adverse effects roads have on wildlife populations Trombulak and Frissell , Forman et al. In some U. Beyond vehicular damage, an astounding 26, people are injured or killed in the United States each year due to vehicle collisions with wildlife Huijser et al. Europeans were first to recognize and start resolving the problem of wildlife-vehicle collisions by commissioning studies of the problem, building wildlife crossings, and reducing traffic speeds to reduce vehicle collisions.

In the s, North America saw an increase in interest in studies and construction of wildlife crossings such as those in Florida that are discussed in chapter 10 Forman et al. Today, increasing research, general media, and visible projects continue to move the nascent field of road ecology forward.

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This means that now is the time to bring emerging science, policy, and innovation into standard transportation planning, design, and construction. Creating projects to minimize or reverse the negative impacts of roads on wildlife, however, is challenging. Given funding constraints and design limitations, it is unlikely that a project will benefit all possible species; therefore, species must be prioritized. Where new roads are being constructed, there are increasing opportunities to consider wildlife early and throughout the decision-making process. Unfortunately, given that many of the mitigation projects for wildlife are for existing roads, most efforts require the daunting task of redesigning roadways to restore connectivity.

This chapter offers a brief review of why roads can be a challenge for wildlife in general; how roads impair connectivity for wildlife populations, including the broader toll of roads on wildlife; and the importance of connectivity. For those interested, many of these concepts are covered in depth elsewhere e. Human activities impact much of the world and continue to expand Sanderson et al. Rapid population growth, an increase in extractive industries, uncontrolled and unplanned development, and new transportation infrastructure are threatening many of our natural resources and the persistence of wildlife populations e.


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Many human-made linear infrastructures such as railroads, power lines, and petroleum pipelines intensify habitat degradation Primack , but roads have the most widespread and lasting impacts Spellerberg , Davenport and Davenport Roads serve as the arteries of this ever-expanding human footprint. Networks of roads also inevitably lead to increased human access to areas that were once more remote and undisturbed.

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Increased access and corresponding impacts can have potentially negative consequences for wildlife. Human activities ranging from logging and petroleum drilling to hiking, camping, and illegal poaching can negatively impact wildlife, and as road networks increase these activities also increase across a much larger expanse of the globe e.

This is particularly true when recreational vehicles, such as ATVs and snowmobiles, even further expand human activities into previously remote areas. Roads are also a leading cause of habitat fragmentation and the resulting loss of connectivity for wildlife populations throughout the world, including North America. The United States alone contains approximately 6.

Federal Highway Administration Roads now cover more than 1 percent of the total land area within the United States, and roads influence the ecology of at least one-fifth of the land area of the entire country Forman , Cerulean In the United States alone, 4. This means that roads alter ecosystem processes and species distributions. The person you email to will see the details you enter in the Form field and will be given you IP address for auditing purposes.

ORG Donate. Boreal Birds. American Bison Society News and Updates. Fisher Translocation to the Northern Sierra Nevada. Arctic Beringia. Energy Development. Wildlife and Private Lands. Pronghorn Migration Path.

Safe Passages: Highways, Wildlife, and Habitat Connectivity

Climate Change. Connectivity in Adirondacks. Exurban Landuse Impacts. Career Opportunities. Conservation Initiatives. Admin Login. Goals WCS aims to: Understand the habitat needs of a suite of species—including wolverine, pronghorn, migratory birds, and woodland caribou—that in turn represent the habitat connectivity needs of a larger set of species. Integrate best science principles into connectivity planning as agencies and public and private stakeholders develop natural resource policies. Today, there are more vehicles on the roads than in the s, and both the technology of roads and automobile design enable vehicles to move faster than in the past.

At the same time, many species of wildlife have rebounded in number, such as elk, deer, and other ungulates. Increasing cars and car speeds and increasing numbers of ungulates—the group of animals most commonly reported in accidents—have resulted in more animal-vehicle collisions. These wildlife-vehicle collisions are probably the main reason that society has been increasingly interested in the need to address wildlife-vehicle collisions and the adverse effects roads have on wildlife populations Trombulak and Frissell , Forman et al.

In some U. Beyond vehicular damage, an astounding 26, people are injured or killed in the United States each year due to vehicle collisions with wildlife Huijser et al. Europeans were first to recognize and start resolving the problem of wildlife-vehicle collisions by commissioning studies of the problem, building wildlife crossings, and reducing traffic speeds to reduce vehicle collisions. In the s, North America saw an increase in interest in studies and construction of wildlife crossings such as those in Florida that are discussed in chapter 10 Forman et al.

Today, increasing research, general media, and visible projects continue to move the nascent field of road ecology forward. This means that now is the time to bring emerging science, policy, and innovation into standard transportation planning, design, and construction. Creating projects to minimize or reverse the negative impacts of roads on wildlife, however, is challenging.

Wildlife use of wildlife crossing structures on US93 North in Montana

Given funding constraints and design limitations, it is unlikely that a project will benefit all possible species; therefore, species must be prioritized. Where new roads are being constructed, there are increasing opportunities to consider wildlife early and throughout the decision-making process. Unfortunately, given that many of the mitigation projects for wildlife are for existing roads, most efforts require the daunting task of redesigning roadways to restore connectivity. This chapter offers a brief review of why roads can be a challenge for wildlife in general; how roads impair connectivity for wildlife populations, including the broader toll of roads on wildlife; and the importance of connectivity.

For those interested, many of these concepts are covered in depth elsewhere e. Human activities impact much of the world and continue to expand Sanderson et al. Rapid population growth, an increase in extractive industries, uncontrolled and unplanned development, and new transportation infrastructure are threatening many of our natural resources and the persistence of wildlife populations e. Many human-made linear infrastructures such as railroads, power lines, and petroleum pipelines intensify habitat degradation Primack , but roads have the most widespread and lasting impacts Spellerberg , Davenport and Davenport Roads serve as the arteries of this ever-expanding human footprint.

Networks of roads also inevitably lead to increased human access to areas that were once more remote and undisturbed. Increased access and corresponding impacts can have potentially negative consequences for wildlife. Human activities ranging from logging and petroleum drilling to hiking, camping, and illegal poaching can negatively impact wildlife, and as road networks increase these activities also increase across a much larger expanse of the globe e. This is particularly true when recreational vehicles, such as ATVs and snowmobiles, even further expand human activities into previously remote areas.

Roads are also a leading cause of habitat fragmentation and the resulting loss of connectivity for wildlife populations throughout the world, including North America. The United States alone contains approximately 6. Federal Highway Administration Roads now cover more than 1 percent of the total land area within the United States, and roads influence the ecology of at least one-fifth of the land area of the entire country Forman , Cerulean