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Conserv Biol. 2011 Apr;25(2):241-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01635.x. Epub 2011 Feb 1.

Effects of road networks on bird populations.

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Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59715, USA.


One potential contributor to the worldwide decline of bird populations is the increasing prevalence of roads, which have several negative effects on birds and other vertebrates. We synthesized the results of studies and reviews that explore the effects of roads on birds with an emphasis on paved roads. The well-known direct effects of roads on birds include habitat loss and fragmentation, vehicle-caused mortality, pollution, and poisoning. Nevertheless, indirect effects may exert a greater influence on bird populations. These effects include noise, artificial light, barriers to movement, and edges associated with roads. Moreover, indirect and direct effects may act synergistically to cause decreases in population density and species richness. Of the many effects of roads, it appears that road mortality and traffic noise may have the most substantial effects on birds relative to other effects and taxonomic groups. Potential measures for mitigating the detrimental effects of roads include noise-reduction strategies and changes to roadway lighting and vegetation and traffic flow. Road networks and traffic volumes are projected to increase in many countries around the world. Increasing habitat loss and fragmentation and predicted species distribution shifts due to climate change are likely to compound the overall effects of roads on birds.

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