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How Human Roads And Highways Hurt Wildlife Habitats – Forcing Adaptation And Evolution
Evolution allows species to adapt to their environment, so species can take a niche and live to reproduce and continue. Those species that don’t evolve fast enough and can’t change their habitat chances are either not with us, or risk joining the list of endangered species and then, maybe finally extinction. Let’s discuss how humans are changing not only our own environment but the environment we share with other species and how that affects their adaptations and evolutionary process.
There is an interesting article in Science News online recently titled; “Roads are rapidly driving evolutionary change around us – Research explains why road science is important,” published on February 17, 2017 about a study from Dartmouth College which states: “Roads causing rapid evolutionary change in wild populations of plants and animals according to a new paper. The study looked at the evolutionary changes caused by the way the roads cut and cut our plane.”
Among the four main ways we interact with animals are:
(2) Noxious emissions from motor vehicles
(3) Predatory Species
(4) Changes in Sediment and Run-off Water
But, to this list I would like to add road noise, interference in the hunting process and removal of nature, and the urban heat island effect. Also, hunting by people, easy access to animals near roads for killing roads, heat, or water flows – and poisoning by people who produce poisons to prevent rodents and gophers from finding shelters roadway or into nearby flood control facilities and infrastructure. So, let’s call these:
(5) Road noise – Difficult to hear predators or prey
(6) Heating – The roads are heated
(7) Human Hunter Access
(8) Poison – Rodent control on road ditches, roadways, road base
There are many road course studies – one I always like to refer to is by Sean Anderson of California State University Channel Islands in CA. One of his graduates has a thesis of interest; The “Web-Based Reporting System for Road Killing” which is an incredibly insightful project about how many animals are killed each year in rural areas in California. Those animals that avoid the roads live to breed, those that are not always smushed, provide protein for predators that take advantage of this new food supply – sometimes at their own risk.
Those animals that listen to cars, or look closely and react quickly survive and thrive, reproduce and move on. Nocturnal animals that don’t freeze in car lights – well, they live and breed too, the ones that don’t die and become street pizza.
There have been many stories about Mountain Lions killing on Southern California Freeways – trying to cross. You would think that a mountain lion would learn and be agile enough to get out of the way – not so, because anything they have ever encountered weighs 6,000 lbs. and chase them at 60+ km per hour, so that they are not on the lookout for parking. Although some of the marked mountain lions often cross the freeways in CA, perhaps they are learning and practicing, teaching their young, maybe in the 20-generation adaptations will begin to show how they evolve for this new threat?
A recent statistical study shows that the average distance in the US is less than 1/2 mile from a paved road. Our wildlife has to adapt or die to deal with these changes in their environment. You can just imagine the many ways these and other issues are changing their adaptation. Pigeons have adapted to live in the city, in the park, along with other species – completely changing the dynamics of their normal evolutionary process, simply because everything we do, will affect something else. BTW – I am not a professional or an advocate for animals, but no one can deny what I have said here today is not real.
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#Human #Roads #Highways #Hurt #Wildlife #Habitats #Forcing #Adaptation #Evolution