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Even Small Roads Can Have a Big Impact

Photo of Even an unpaved, little-used road adjacent to secondary forest can impact amphibians and reptiles. Ross Maynard, Stephen F. Austin State University.Even an unpaved, little-used road adjacent to secondary forest can impact amphibians and reptiles. Ross Maynard, Stephen F. Austin State University.Snapshot : Roads may be the single biggest driver of amphibian and reptile population declines and habitat loss in Neotropical rainforests.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Saenz, Daniel 
Research Location : Ecuador
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1085

Summary

Even roads with no vehicular traffic have significant effects on amphibians and reptiles, according to a new study from Forest Service scientists and their cooperators. The scientists studied a low-use dirt road in the Amazonian rainforest at San José de Payamino, Ecuador. The road has been closed to vehicle traffic since its construction in 2010, so effects from vehicle mortality, vehicle-related pollution, and road noise were not confounding factors. However, the edge effects extended almost 1,000 feet from the road edge, as abundance and diversity were significantly greater at the interior forest compared to the forest edge. Amphibians and reptiles were surveyed using both visual encounter surveys and drift fences with pitfall and funnel traps at varying distances from the road. Habitat features of the forest were measured at each sampling distance. Amphibian abundance was best predicted by vine abundance, while both vine and mature tree abundance were the best predictors for species richness and diversity. Overall, the results demonstrate that little-used road disturbances can have profound impacts on wildlife.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Stephen F. Austin State University

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