In their meta-study, Spanish scientists reviewed more than a thousand studies on the effects of road networks on wildlife. They found that existing data is limited to high-income countries and only a few species groups, while particularly species-rich regions such as Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa central are barely covered. In addition, the species spectrum is shown here only in a fragmentary way. 90 percent of the data covers large mammals, mainly bears, deer and antelopes, but also kangaroos, koalas and turtles. Only two percent of the species recorded were those considered threatened by trafficking in the IUCN Red List.
The rapid expansion of road networks poses major challenges for wildlife: on the one hand, many animals die directly from being struck by vehicles, and on the other hand, roads fragment the territory. For many species, this creates impassable barriers that make successful reproduction difficult.
In order to be able to introduce protective measures, it is important to complete the hitherto incomplete picture. Unstudied species such as primates, bats and invertebrates, which are also known to be affected by road networks, should be further considered in monitoring. The proportion of Red List species among those examined is still too low to understand the effect of road networks on threatened species. In addition, this infrastructure is developed to varying degrees in countries with different economic strengths. This makes it difficult to compare studies internationally.
“In order to fill knowledge gaps, future research, rather than being limited to recording wildlife-vehicle collisions, should examine how road mortality affects population dynamics,” suggests the first author, Dr Rafael Barrientos, postdoctoral researcher at UCM. “Additionally, more research needs to be done to determine whether the lack of connectivity and mitigation measures, such as green bridges, are affecting the survival of the population along the roads.”
The latest author, Professor Henrique Pereira, head of the “Biodiversity and Conservation” research group at iDiv and MLU, also sees a strong need to catch up: “Until now, the literature has been dominated by studies. empirical studies of animal mortality hot spots on roads. , but little attention has been paid to the systematic assessment of the contribution of roads to the high risk of species extinction. Now is the time to move beyond these empirical studies and use population models to assess the impact of roads on the risk of species extinction so that mitigation measures can target the species most. affected. “
Perspectives in ecology and conservation
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The Lost Road: Do Transportation Networks Endanger the Persistence of Wildlife Populations?
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