The Impact of Roads

Evolution allows species to adapt to their own environment, so that the species can meet a market and live to procreate and continue. Those species which didn’t evolve quickly enough and were not able to modify their suburban living spaces are either no longer with us or risk joining the listing of endangered species and then, perhaps eventual extinction. Let’s discuss how humans are modifying not only our own environment but the environment we share with other species and the way that impacts their adaptations and evolutionary process.

There was a fascinating article in Science News online lately titled; “Roads are driving rapid evolutionary change within our surroundings – Study explains why street ecology issues,” published on February 17, 2017 about a study from Dartmouth College which stated: “Roads are inducing rapid evolutionary shift in wild populations of plants and animals according to some other paper. The study looks at the evolutionary changes that are being caused by the way roads slice and dice our plane.”

Amongst the four major ways our roads are messing with Raccoon Removal West Palm Beach are:
But, for this list I’d love to add road noise, interfering in the searching and evading procedure for character, and urban heat island effect. Also, hunting by humans, easier access to animals which hangout nearby streets for road kill, heat, or warm water runoff – and poisoning by humans who put out poisons to prevent rodents and gophers from digging borrows under the road way or into nearby flood control levees and infrastructures. Thus, let us call these:
Squirrel, Dead, Body, Dead Animal(6) Heating – Roads are hotter
(7) Human Hunting Access
(8) Poisoning – Rodent control on roadway ditches, sidewalks, street base
There are lots of street stink studies – one I often like to mention is by Sean Anderson of California State University Channel Islands in CA. One of the graduate students has a thesis of curiosity; “Web-Based Reporting System for Road Kill” that was an incredibly insightful project as to just how many animals are killed each year in rural areas in California. Those animals who prevent roads live to procreate, those who don’t frequently get smushed, providing protein for scavengers who make the most of this new food supply – sometimes in their peril.

Those animals that listen for cars, or watch carefully and respond quickly survive and thrive, procreate and continue. Nocturnal Animals which do not freeze in automobile headlights – well they live and procreate also, those who don’t perish and become street pizza.

There have been many stories about Mountain Lions murdered on Southern California Freeways – attempting to cross. You’d think a mountain lion would learn and be agile enough to get out of the way – not so, as nothing they’ve ever struck weighs 6,000 pounds. And chases after them in 60+ mph, so they aren’t on the watch for automobiles. Even though some of the mountain lions labeled have routinely crossed freeways in CA, perhaps they’re learning and adapting, teaching their young, possibly in 20-generations adaptations will begin to appear as they evolve for this new danger?

A new statistical study revealed that the normal point in the US is less than 1/2 mile from a paved road. Our wildlife must adapt or perish to address these changes in their surroundings. You can just imagine the many ways these and other issues are altering their evolutionary adaptation. Pigeons have adapted to live in the city, in parks, along with other species – completely altering the dynamics of the normal evolutionary process, simply because everything we do, affects something else.

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