Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Road Kill Leads to Study of Highway Impact on Environment

27.11.2008
Comedians have made good use of “road kill” in their routines, but a Clarkson University professor began focusing attention on the problem after finding roads in Northern New York covered in green sheen from frogs who had been flattened by traffic.

“I thought, wow, this happens and people never think much about it. It’s just an accepted part of the landscape,” said Tom Langen, associate professor of biology at Clarkson in Potsdam, N.Y. Langen, a California transplant, wanted to find out “whether this was a benign problem or if it was evidence of a larger environmental problem.”

He discovered that there was already a community of scientists and environmentalists looking at roads and their impacts on surrounding environments, including animal populations in a field of study called “road ecology.”

“In terms of a discipline, road ecology is still a pretty young field. It really only dates back to the early 1990s, when a few people started pointing out the deleterious effects of roads on the environment,” Langen says. There’s been a growing realization that many of the most complex environmental problems are located in the spaces where humans and the natural world intersect.

“We block roads out of our minds. We drive them all the time so we don’t even think about them,” Langen says. “However, if you were to look at a map you would notice roads are a dominant land use in America and all over the world. If you were to gather all the roads and right-of-ways in the continental U.S., it would cover the state of South Carolina.”

Four years ago, Langen and fellow researchers associated with Clarkson’s Center for the Environment and Paul Smith's College of the Adirondacks formed a multidisciplinary team to assess the long-term environmental consequences of current winter road maintenance practices on soils and lakes in the Adirondack Park, and to identify alternatives that were less environmentally harmful. The project was largely funded by the New York State Department of Transportation.

“The question we wanted to answer was how do we reduce some of the harmful effects of road deicing on the environment and still maintain safe winter travel?” recalls Langen. “Road salt (sodium chloride) is readily transported through soil and into water bodies. Although non-toxic in low concentrations, at high concentrations it stresses plants and animals, ultimately eliminating native salt-intolerant species and promoting the growth of salt tolerant ones, including exotic invasive species."

In the two lakes that were the primary focus of the study, Upper Cascade Lake and Lower Cascade Lake, the scientists found concentrations of chloride that were over 100 times higher than expected in typical Adirondack lakes. The high chloride concentration was linked to the heavy road salt and sand applications along Highway 73, a well-traveled road that runs through Lake Placid.

Langen and the research team recommended that certain salt-tolerant native plants be planted along the roads to restore vegetation and soil fertility, and that a target reduction of 15 percent less road salt use should prevent the water quality of the Cascade Lakes from further deteriorating. These recommendations are currently being implemented by the Department of Transportation.

Langen’s efforts at road ecology aren’t limited to upstate New York. He spent the last year in Central America, supported by funding from both the National Geographic Society and the Fulbright Fellowship Program, studying road ecology in Costa Rica.

“Costa Rica has one of the most extensive and best-managed systems of parks and protected areas in the world,” says Langen. “Many of Costa Rica’s parks, which serve as natural wildlife corridors, are bisected by major national highways. This disrupts connectivity by deterring migration or by causing excessive mortality due to road-kill.”

Langen not only studied animal migration patterns and identified hot spots of road mortality in Costa Rica, he also facilitated a number of workshops to help local transportation and park officials to understand road-related problems and find ways to mitigate them.

Michael P. Griffin | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.clarkson.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>