Predicting when animal populations are at risk from roads: an interactive model of road avoidance behavior

  • Jaeger JAG Bowman J B
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Abstract

Roads and traffic affect animal populations detrimentally in four
ways: they decrease habitat amount and quality, enhance

mortality due to collisions with vehicles, prevent access to resources
on the other side of the road, and subdivide animal populations

into smaller and more vulnerable fractions. Roads will affect persistence
of animal populations differently depending on (1) road

avoidance behavior of the animals (i.e., noise avoidance, road surface
avoidance, and car avoidance); (2) population sensitivity

to the four road effects; (3) road size; and (4) traffic volume. We
have created a model based on these population and road

characteristics to study the questions: (1) what types of road avoidance
behaviors make populations more vulnerable to roads?;

(2) what types of roads have the greatest impact on population persistence?;
and (3) how much does the impact of roads vary

with the relative population sensitivity to the four road effects?

Our results suggest that, in general, the most vulnerable populations
are those with high noise and high road surface avoidance,

and secondly, those with high noise avoidance only. Conversely, the
least vulnerable populations are those with high car avoidance

only, and secondly, high road surface and high car avoidance. Populations
with low overall road avoidance and those with high

overall road avoidance tend to respond in opposite ways when the sensitivity
to the four road effects is varied. The same is

true of populations with high road surface avoidance when compared
to those with high car and high noise avoidance. The

model further predicted that traffic volume has a larger effect than
road size on the impact of roads on population persistence.

One potential application of our model (to run the model on the web
or to download it go to www.glel.carleton.ca/ or

www.nls.ethz.ch/roadmodel/index.htm or contact the first author) is
to generate predictions for more structured field studies of

road avoidance behavior and its influence on persistence of wildlife
populations.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Avoidance behavior; Barrier effect; Car avoidance;

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Authors

  • Brennan J Fahrig L Bert D Bouchard J Charbonneau N Frank K Gruber B von Toschanowitz K T Jaeger JAG Bowman J

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