Road ecology is the study of how roads and wildlife interact. Traditionally, road ecologists have primarily focused on one effect of roads: roadkill. Though roadkill can have devastating effects on wildlife populations, roads have sub-lethal impacts that are gaining more and more attention from the scientific community. These sub-lethal impacts include noise, light, and chemical pollution as well as altered habitat structure, which can all influence animal behavior. In this dissertation, I applied a behavioral ecology framework to study specific lethal and sub-lethal road effects with the goal of improving mitigation efforts. In Chapters 1 and 2, I evaluated how human behavior may be modified to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions; traditionally efforts have been made to modify wildlife road crossing behavior. I found that Roadside Animal Detection Systems, which warn drivers when animals are near the road, are successful in reducing crash risk; however, care must be taken to ensure that drivers do not become acclimated to the warning system. In Chapters 3 and 4, I evaluated how traffic noise affects subadult growth and adult abundance and communication of anuran amphibians (frogs and toads), a taxon widely recognized as one of the most negatively impacted by roads. I found that through traffic noise alters tadpole behavior, it does not appear to have a negative effect on their growth. Traffic noise does, however, negatively affect adult anuran abundance. My results indicate that this reduction in abundance is caused by the interference of traffic noise with anuran communication.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Grace, Molly, "The Behavior of Humans and Wildlife with Respect to Roads: Insights for Mitigation and Management" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5375.