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Ecological Effects of Roads Infrastructure on Herpetofauna: Understanding Biology and Increasing Communication

  • Kimberly M., Andrews
  • Denim M, Jochimsen
Published Article
Publication Date
May 19, 2007
Road Ecology Center John Muir Institute of the Environment
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Roads are the ultimate manifestation of urbanization, providing essential connectivity within and between rural and heavily populated areas. Roads permeate national forests and other established wilderness areas; consequently, no areas in the U.S. are protected from this expanding infrastructure. The ecological impacts roads have on herpetofauna across temporal and spatial scales are profound, beginning during the early states of construction and progressing through to completion and daily use. Herpetofauna have the potential to be negatively influenced from roads as a consequence of urbanization, either directly from on-road mortality or indirectly as a result of a variety of ecological impacts and enabled human accessibility. The quality and the potential severity of indirect impacts of roads and urban development on amphibians and reptiles far exceed those incurred from direct mortality and wildlife although our understanding of these indirect consequences is premature. Our objective for this presentation is to: 1) summarize the prevalence of data on direct mortality of herpetofauna, 2) to characterize the diversity of indirect effects from roads, 3) to suggest larger-scale impacts on population and community levels, and 4) to recommend areas of future research for impacts that are undocumented but for which herpetofauna are likely susceptible based on their ecological strategies. Lastly, we present approaches for resolving and preventing conflicts between wildlife and roads. While some on-road mortality can be minimized in some instances for some species with road crossings, the mitigation of indirect effects such as pollution can be accomplished with these measures. In light of the many indirect effects that have been identified and the many more that remain to be documented, proactive transportation planning, public education, and communication among the professional sectors of society are the most effective way to minimize and mitigate road impacts and the only effective mechanism for avoidance of road impacts.

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