Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















CAR TECH
Roads are driving rapid evolutionary change in our environment
by Staff Writers
Hanover NH (SPX) Feb 17, 2017


A suite of common ecological impacts of roads are shown as labeled arrows. While these effects are well described in road ecology, their role as known or likely agents of natural selection is poorly understood. Yet these factors are capable of driving contemporary evolutionary change. Studying the evolutionary effects of these factors will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the ways in which organisms are responding to the presence and consequences of roads. (This is Figure 2 from the paper). Image courtesy Steven P. Brady using symbols courtesy of the Integration and Application Network, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (ian.umces.edu/symbols/).

Roads are causing rapid evolutionary change in wild populations of plants and animals according to a Concepts and Questions paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The paper is available now online in 'early view' ahead of being featured on the cover in the print edition on March 1. (A pdf of the paper is also available here).

Said to be the largest human artifact on the planet, roads impact the ecology of nearly 20 percent of the U.S. landscape alone, and globally, are projected to increase 60 percent in length by 2050; yet, how roads are triggering contemporary evolutionary changes among plants and animals, is a topic that has typically been overlooked.

By drawing on previous studies, the researchers show that the numerous negative effects of roads - such as pollution and road kill - can cause rapid evolutionary changes in road-adjacent populations. This finding that roads spur rapid evolution is transforming scientists' views of the biological impacts caused by the ever-expanding network of roads.

Over a period of just a few generations - and in one case in as few as just 30 years - some populations living in road-adjacent habitat are evolving higher tolerance to pollutants, such as road salt runoff; the common grass Anthoxanthum odoratum is one such example, the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is another.

Despite this positive influence of rapid evolution, road-adjacent populations are not always able to adapt to life beside the road, at times becoming 'maladapted,' evolving lower tolerances to negative road effects. This can occur even if other species in those habitats are adapting, as was the case with the spotted salamander and a cohabitant frog.

Earlier fieldwork by Brady found that the survival rate for wood frog Rana sylvatica populations living by the road was 29 percent lower than those transplanted from other areas. With the spotted salamander and wood frog, the fitness of each population had increased and decreased, respectively, relative to populations not living roadside, which demonstrates how local adaptive and maladaptive changes are occurring through natural selection among various species.

Even though a population may experience local adaptation, the researchers point out that while evolution might decrease the chance of local extinction, it does not preclude it.

"We have long known that slicing and dicing our planet with roads presents many challenges for plants and animals but we are only now beginning to appreciate that those same challenges can drive evolutionary change over just a few generations. This forces us to reconsider the nature of road effects and the complexity of ways that life responds to them," says lead-author Steven P. Brady, a biologist in the Department of Water and Land Resources at King County in Seattle, Wash., who was a post-doctoral fellow in biological sciences at Dartmouth College, when the paper was written. Brady was a member of Ryan Calsbeek's Lab in Evolutionary Ecology at Dartmouth.

"It is striking to consider that across such different organisms - grasses, swallows, amphibians - roads have similar capacity to cause divergent evolution among local populations," says Brady.

"But what is perhaps most surprising is that some populations appear to be evolving maladaptively right alongside populations that are evolving adaptively. And from what we can tell, such maladaptive outcomes may become increasingly common in response to human-modified environments such as road-adjacent habitats."

The evolutionary perspectives of road ecology is integral to understanding how roads are impacting our environment, and to planning for and implementing conservation efforts.

As new roads and infrastructure projects are considered by local, state and federal municipalities, including the prospect of a new U.S. infrastructure program, an integrated policy approach that considers maximizing the connectivity of habitats, preserving genetic diversity and increasing population sizes, may help "mitigate the consequences of roads."

Research paper


Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Dartmouth College
Car Technology at SpaceMart.com






Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
CAR TECH
Saab, Aalto University sign collaborative research deal
Linkoping, Sweden (UPI) Feb 10, 2017
Saab and Finland's Aalto University have signed a 10-year collaborative agreement for research, especially in sensor technology. The agreement, worth about $21 million, strengthens past collaborative efforts with the school, Saab said. "For Aalto University, collaboration with Saab means a substantial injection of resources into the research in the field, and an opportunity to sh ... read more


CAR TECH
Endurance athletes: Swig mouthwash for improved performance

NASA to develop oxygen recovery technologies for future deep space missions

Russia's first private space tourism craft flight test set for 2020

Looking to the future: Russia, US mull post-ISS cooperation in space

CAR TECH
SpaceX aborts launch after 'odd' rocket engine behavior

Airbus Safran Launchers: 77th consecutive successful launch for Ariane 5

India puts record 104 satellites into orbit

Airbus Safran Launchers: 77th consecutive successful launch for Ariane 5

CAR TECH
Scientists say Mars valley was flooded with water not long ago

Opportunity passes 44 kilometers of surface travel after 13 years

Scientists shortlist three landing sites for Mars 2020

ISRO saves its Mars mission spacecraft from eclipse

CAR TECH
Chinese cargo spacecraft set for liftoff in April

China looks to Mars, Jupiter exploration

China's first cargo spacecraft to leave factory

China launches commercial rocket mission Kuaizhou-1A

CAR TECH
Italy, Russia working closely on Mars exploration, Earth monitoring satellites

NASA seeks partnerships with US companies to advance commercial space technologies

A New Space Paradigm

Why it's time for Australia to launch its own space agency

CAR TECH
Penn engineers overcome a hurdle in growing a revolutionary optical metamaterial

Scientists look to tick 'cement' as potential medical adhesive

Researchers engineer thubber a stretchable rubber that packs a thermal conductive punch

Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

CAR TECH
60,000-year-old microbes found in Mexican mine: NASA scientist

Possibility of Silicon-Based Life Grows

The heart of a far-off star beats for its planet

Astronomy team finds more than 100 exoplanet candidates

CAR TECH
NASA receives science report on Europa lander concept

New Horizons Refines Course for Next Flyby

It's Never 'Groundhog Day' at Jupiter

Public to Choose Jupiter Picture Sites for NASA Juno




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement