Who’s who on the wildlife bridges?

I hate my e-tag – that ever-present, electronic parasite lodging on the dashboard of my car. Each beep heralding the departure of cash from my bank account as I cruise through the city’s toll roads. It never misses a pass, the insufferable little know-it-all. Sometimes I glare at it….

This website has moved! You can read the rest of this post, and follow along with newer posts, at my new site here https://lifeontheverge.net/2016/02/07/whos-who-on-the-wildlife-bridges/

Conservation at the cross-roads

In August I had the absolute pleasure of hosting a road ecology symposium at the ICCB-ECCB, an international conference on conservation biology. It was a pleasure not just because it was summer in the south of France (ooh la la) or because I got to eat chocolate croissants and soft cheese every day, but because of the quality of the people I was able to work with and the enthusiasm they brought to our symposium.

Dan Smith, Clara Grilo, Rodney van der Ree and myself wanted to organise a symposium that showcased the global importance and diversity of road ecology research, and highlight how critical this issue is to conservation. With over 30 authors across 15 countries contributing to the presentations, we think we achieved that! The topics ranged from building predictive models to guide mitigation efforts, to the complex challenges facing management in developing nations, the importance of road-free areas and the opportunities for citizen science.

We’ve compiled the abstracts from our symposium into a ‘mini-proceedings’ booklet, which includes links to relevant papers and websites as well as the authors’ Research Gate profiles so that you can easily find out more about their work.

Click on the cover page to download pdf
Conservation at the Crossroads_cover

It was fantastic to see that weren’t the only ones talking about road ecology at the conference, with several other sessions dedicated to the topic. It’s exciting to see how the field is growing! Thanks to the magic of live-tweeting, you can catch up on all the presentations, discussions and papers with this handy Storify newsletter.

I hope you find these resources helpful, particularly for those who were unable to attend the conference. Feel free to spread them through your networks.

Until next time, I’ll leave you with this snapshot which sums up the atmosphere in Montpellier. If only the cat were wearing a beret. So Francey.
le chat noir_ksoanes

Introducing the Australasian Network for Ecology and Transportation

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that roads and traffic take a toll on the environment. You’ll also know that there is a whole field of research devoted to understanding and fixing the problem. Road ecology.

ksoanes_wildlife crossing

All over the world, road agencies, environment groups and scientists work to reduce the impacts of roads on the environment. They might build wildlife overpasses, reschedule construction so it doesn’t disrupt mating season, close roads during sensitive times or avoid building roads through protected areas. The details of these stories – successes, failures, and surprises – are often filed away on office shelves and forgotten. That’s the beauty of road ecology organisations like ICOET in the US and IENE in Europe. These networks hold regular meetings and conferences, ensuring that valuable lessons are shared.

Now one more group has set out to make information on road ecology more available – the Australasian Network for Ecology and Transportation, or ANET. To lift text straight from their website:

“We are a professional network dedicated to the research, design and implementation of environmentally-sensitive linear infrastructure (rail, roads and utility easements) across Australasia. ANET acts as a hub, providing links between government, industry, scientists and community groups to ensure all have access to current evidence and best-practice.”

While the network’s focus is on Australia, New Zealand and Asia, it’s open to anyone to join (it’s free) and contribute. In July 2014 the first ANET Conference will be held in Australia, showcasing the latest road ecology research.

Check out their website, Facebook and Twitter (@ecoltransnet) for more info and updates on road ecology, both here and abroad. Full disclosure, while this post isn’t on behalf of ANET, I am involved in the steering committee and run the Facebook and Twitter pages – so I’m not entirely impartial. Even so, I think it’s all pretty great and I’m excited to see how the network grows!

Mysterious poles make road crossing easier for high flying mammals

Here is an article I recently wrote for The Conversation, summarising the first paper from my PhD (soon to be published in Biological Conservation). You can read the accepted manuscript here, or scroll down to see The Conversation piece. You can also follow along with the project at my new site “Life on the Verge” https://lifeontheverge.net/category/hume-highway-wildlife-crossings/  Enjoy!

Squirrel Glider on a rope bridge over the Hume Freeway in north-east Victoria.

Squirrel Glider on a rope bridge over the Hume Freeway in north-east Victoria.

Wildlife can have a tough time crossing roads. Noisy, fast vehicles and wide, open gaps in habitat make it an uninviting and risky venture. This means some animals are cut off from food, shelter or loving company on the other side of the road, young have trouble dispersing to find new territories and populations might become small and genetically isolated.

On the Hume Freeway in north-east Victoria, though, specially designed structures are making life a lot easier for squirrel gliders. Rope ladders bridge the gap between trees on either side of the freeway and wooden “glider poles” in the centre median and roadsides replace missing trees, helping these small, threatened marsupials cross safely…

Read the full article here.