The global transportation system is the “giant now embracing us,” and its omnipresent nature influences ecosystems worldwide (Forman, 1998: iv). The diversity of environmental effects associated with transportation systems challenges researchers to focus on concrete aspects of intertwined ecological systems. Examining habitat fragmentation associated with transportation networks, however, exposes some of the most direct impacts of these networks on fauna populations. As transportation networks expand, road corridors hinder habitat connectivity, which can greatly impact habitat health and genetic diversity in ecosystems (Corlatti et al., 2009; Tewksbury et al., 2002). Animal-vehicle collisions, decreased reproductive success, movement constraints, decreased colonization, and increased extinction rates associated with habitat fragmentation due to roads affects population densities, biodiversity, and ecosystem processes (Beckmann & Hilty, 2010). These factors influence direct and indirect habitat loss, which decreases habitat connectivity and isolates small populations (Beckmann & Hilty, 2010; Schwab & Zandbergen, 2011; Goosem et al., 2005). Habitat fragmentation is particularly detrimental for populations of rare, wide-ranging, and low-density species of wildlife that require large amounts of land to meet their ecological needs or for seasonal migratory movements (Beckmann & Hilty, 2010). Current research promotes habitat connectivity in landscapes fragmented by roads to minimize some of these ecological effects (Beckmann & Hilty, 2010; Goosem et al., 2005; Laurance et al., 2004; Colchero et al., 2010).
Paper prepared for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar/Geography Capstone.
Courtenay, Carroll. "All Roads Lead to Fragmentation: Exploring Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Underpasses through the Florida Panther and the Jaguar." Paper for Environmental Studies Senior Seminar/Geography Capstone, University of Richmond, April 2012.