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Maximizing the wildlife conservation value of road right-of-ways in an agriculturally dominated landscape.

McCleery RA, Holdorf AR, Hubbard LL, Peer BD - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: We found that the sizes of right-of-ways and the amount of traffic on the adjacent roads synergistically worked to influence wildlife communities.Efforts to create or enhance these features for the benefit of wildlife would likely face numerous obstacles.Nonetheless, from a grassland conservation perspective, working with stakeholders to implement specific strategies to enhance these often neglected areas may be an effective complement to purchasing and restoring conservation lands away from roads.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
There has been a growing recognition that the narrow linear strips of uncultivated vegetation that lie between roads and agricultural crops, referred to as roadside right-of-ways or verges, can serve as areas for the conservation of wildlife. The features of right-of-ways that should influence the composition of wildlife communities vary considerably. Our goal was to determine what features of right-of-ways increased the conservation potential of right-of-ways for wildlife in a grassland system dominated by agricultural production. We sampled 100 right-of-ways for birds and 92 right-of-ways for small mammals in McDonough and Warren Counties in west-central Illinois. We found that the sizes of right-of-ways and the amount of traffic on the adjacent roads synergistically worked to influence wildlife communities. On roads with low traffic, avian species richness increased rapidly with increased right-of-way width, while on roads with high traffic, avian richness increased only slightly with increasing right-of-way widths. We found that wider roadside right-of-ways (preferably across the road from equally wide right-of-ways) with thicker and taller vegetation had the greatest conservation value for birds and small mammals. The features that enhanced the conservation value of right-of-ways in our study area were uncommon. Efforts to create or enhance these features for the benefit of wildlife would likely face numerous obstacles. Nonetheless, from a grassland conservation perspective, working with stakeholders to implement specific strategies to enhance these often neglected areas may be an effective complement to purchasing and restoring conservation lands away from roads.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Predictive values and 95% CI of species richness of small mammals on roadside right-of-ways in west-central Illinois.Values are a function of the combined width of roadside right-of-ways on both sides of the road (ROWtotal).
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pone.0120375.g002: Predictive values and 95% CI of species richness of small mammals on roadside right-of-ways in west-central Illinois.Values are a function of the combined width of roadside right-of-ways on both sides of the road (ROWtotal).

Mentions: From a total of 2,760 trap nights, we captured 312 individuals of nine different species the great majority of which were native (> 94%; Table 1). The best competing model to explain small mammal richness had one variable, the combined width of the trapped and adjacent ROWs (ROWtotal; Table 2). As ROWtotal increased, so did the diversity of the small mammal community (β = 0.0117, 95% CI = 0.0002–0.0233), with species richness increasing by a biologically significant 1 species only after 60m (Fig. 2). Competing models (< 4 AICc units from the best model) ranked above the model (Table 2) included measures of visual obstruction (VO), vegetation height (Height) and ROW width (ROW). Visual obstruction decreased richness (β = -0.0087, 95% CI = -0.0495–0.0322) and Height (β = 0.2778, 95% CI = -0.1334–0.6888) and ROW (β = 0.0196, 95% CI = -0.0086–0.0477) increased richness, but all three variables had 95% CI that included zero, suggesting that they were not strong predictors of mammal diversity on ROWs. Furthermore, all of the variables in competing models (< 4 AICc units from the best model) ranked below the model also had 95% CI that included zero providing little support for our predictions that Grass, AADT, or soil compaction (Soil) would influence small mammal richness. We removed Imprev from the analysis because it was highly correlated (R = 0.77) with ROW width.


Maximizing the wildlife conservation value of road right-of-ways in an agriculturally dominated landscape.

McCleery RA, Holdorf AR, Hubbard LL, Peer BD - PLoS ONE (2015)

Predictive values and 95% CI of species richness of small mammals on roadside right-of-ways in west-central Illinois.Values are a function of the combined width of roadside right-of-ways on both sides of the road (ROWtotal).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4368768&req=5

pone.0120375.g002: Predictive values and 95% CI of species richness of small mammals on roadside right-of-ways in west-central Illinois.Values are a function of the combined width of roadside right-of-ways on both sides of the road (ROWtotal).
Mentions: From a total of 2,760 trap nights, we captured 312 individuals of nine different species the great majority of which were native (> 94%; Table 1). The best competing model to explain small mammal richness had one variable, the combined width of the trapped and adjacent ROWs (ROWtotal; Table 2). As ROWtotal increased, so did the diversity of the small mammal community (β = 0.0117, 95% CI = 0.0002–0.0233), with species richness increasing by a biologically significant 1 species only after 60m (Fig. 2). Competing models (< 4 AICc units from the best model) ranked above the model (Table 2) included measures of visual obstruction (VO), vegetation height (Height) and ROW width (ROW). Visual obstruction decreased richness (β = -0.0087, 95% CI = -0.0495–0.0322) and Height (β = 0.2778, 95% CI = -0.1334–0.6888) and ROW (β = 0.0196, 95% CI = -0.0086–0.0477) increased richness, but all three variables had 95% CI that included zero, suggesting that they were not strong predictors of mammal diversity on ROWs. Furthermore, all of the variables in competing models (< 4 AICc units from the best model) ranked below the model also had 95% CI that included zero providing little support for our predictions that Grass, AADT, or soil compaction (Soil) would influence small mammal richness. We removed Imprev from the analysis because it was highly correlated (R = 0.77) with ROW width.

Bottom Line: We found that the sizes of right-of-ways and the amount of traffic on the adjacent roads synergistically worked to influence wildlife communities.Efforts to create or enhance these features for the benefit of wildlife would likely face numerous obstacles.Nonetheless, from a grassland conservation perspective, working with stakeholders to implement specific strategies to enhance these often neglected areas may be an effective complement to purchasing and restoring conservation lands away from roads.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
There has been a growing recognition that the narrow linear strips of uncultivated vegetation that lie between roads and agricultural crops, referred to as roadside right-of-ways or verges, can serve as areas for the conservation of wildlife. The features of right-of-ways that should influence the composition of wildlife communities vary considerably. Our goal was to determine what features of right-of-ways increased the conservation potential of right-of-ways for wildlife in a grassland system dominated by agricultural production. We sampled 100 right-of-ways for birds and 92 right-of-ways for small mammals in McDonough and Warren Counties in west-central Illinois. We found that the sizes of right-of-ways and the amount of traffic on the adjacent roads synergistically worked to influence wildlife communities. On roads with low traffic, avian species richness increased rapidly with increased right-of-way width, while on roads with high traffic, avian richness increased only slightly with increasing right-of-way widths. We found that wider roadside right-of-ways (preferably across the road from equally wide right-of-ways) with thicker and taller vegetation had the greatest conservation value for birds and small mammals. The features that enhanced the conservation value of right-of-ways in our study area were uncommon. Efforts to create or enhance these features for the benefit of wildlife would likely face numerous obstacles. Nonetheless, from a grassland conservation perspective, working with stakeholders to implement specific strategies to enhance these often neglected areas may be an effective complement to purchasing and restoring conservation lands away from roads.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus