Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Road improvement paves the way for weed invasions

26.03.2003


While it is well-known that roads can spread invasive weeds, new research shows that some roads are worse than others. In Utah, areas along paved roads were far more likely to be invaded than those along 4-wheel-drive tracks. This suggests that limiting road improvements would help keep out invasive weeds.

"Each step of road improvement would appear to convert an increasing area of natural habitat to roadside habitat," say Jonathan Gelbard, who did this work while at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and is now at the University of California at Davis, and Jayne Belnap of the U.S. Geological Survey in Moab, Utah, in the April issue of Conservation Biology.

Cheatgrass, knapweeds and other non-native plants have invaded nearly 125 million acres of the American West. Roads are a big part of the problem: for instance, vehicles can transport non-native seeds into uninfested areas, and clearing land during road construction gives weed seeds a place to become established. Intuitively, it makes sense that improved roads would spread weeds more than primitive roads because the former have more traffic, more exposed soil and more maintenance such as mowing and herbicide treatments, all of which can favor invasive species.



To see if non-native weeds really are more likely to invade along improved roads, Gelbard and Belnap surveyed the plants along 42 roads with varying degrees of improvement (paved, improved surface such as gravel, graded and 4-wheel-drive track) in and around southern Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. The researchers determined the cover and number of species of non-native and native plants in two areas: roadside verges (strips along the road), and "interior sites" near but not right next to roads (165 feet from the verge).

Gelbard and Belnap found that road improvement greatly increased the cover of non-native plants in roadside verges. Notably, cheatgrass cover was three times greater in verges along paved roads than along 4-wheel-drive tracks (27 vs. 9%).

In addition, verges along improved roads were also wider, ranging from about three feet on each side of 4-wheel-drive tracks to 23 feet on each side of paved roads. This means that improving roads can convert natural habitat to non-native weed-infested roadside habitat. "For example, our results suggest that improving 10 km [about 6 miles] of 4-wheel-drive tracks to paved roads converts an average of 12.4 ha [about 30 acres] of interior habitat to roadside [habitat]," say Gelbard and Belnap.

The researchers also found that improved roads had more non-native plant cover in interior sites. Again, cheatgrass cover was more than three times greater in interior sites adjacent to paved roads than in those adjacent to 4-wheel-drive tracks (26 vs. 8%).

Overall, the cover of non-native plants was more than 50% greater in interior sites adjacent to paved roads than in those adjacent to 4-wheel-drive tracks.

In addition, road improvement changed the number of both exotic and of native species in the interior community study plots: the number of exotic species was more than 50% greater and the number of native species was 30% lower.

"Our findings suggest that major opportunities remain to prevent exotic [non-native] plant invasions in this semiarid landscape by minimizing the construction of new roads and the improvement of existing roads," say Gelbard and Belnap.


###
CONTACT:
Jonathan Gelbard (jlgelbard@ucdavis.edu)
Jayne Belnap (jayne_belnap@usgs.gov)

Jonathan Gelbard | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://conbio.net/scb
http://conservationbiology.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht Making Oceans Plastic Free - Project tackles the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans
31.05.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>