About this Research Topic
Transportation networks negatively impact natural system attributes and processes. These impacts occur within and alongside transport systems (e.g., wildlife-vehicle collisions, bird air strikes), at varying distances away from the system (e.g., air and water contaminants), instantaneously (e.g., traffic noise), and across evolutionary timeframes (e.g., genetic fragmentation). Although these impacts have been measured at fine grains and limited extents, they are rarely estimated at large extents or for major segments of ecology; for example, the number of wild animals lost to traffic at national scales and the concomitant loss to populations of impacted species. Quantifying ecological impacts at these extents allows for effective policy to be developed, as has historically been the case for other environmental impacts, such as water and air pollution. Similarly, positive ecological effects of mitigation actions on transportation networks are rarely measured, making it challenging to estimate how much mitigation and what type is needed to reduce overall impacts.
This Research Topic will focus on quantifying both the negative impacts of transportation networks (road, air, rail, and/or water) at large extents and/or the potential benefits of mitigation actions, comprising studies that demonstrate these impacts and benefits at scales to complement regional policy and funding development by national governments. To understand ecological phenomena, it is necessary to observe behavior across multiple spatial and temporal scales. The scientific goal of the Research Topic, therefore, will be to advance the field of transportation ecology to include calculation of impacts, and temporal extent and scales matching overall ecological impact that may be occurring. The unapologetically conservationist goal of the topic will be to highlight the entirety of largely unknown, total ecological impacts of transportation systems to inform policy. It is a challenge to make the case for recognition and mitigation of these impacts when the literature largely focuses on limited extents, short timeframes, and relative (rather than absolute) quantification of impacts and mitigation benefits.
The challenge issued to invited and potential authors will be to develop and submit articles that quantify aquatic, marine, aerial, and terrestrial ecological impacts from transportation systems and/or quantify the effectiveness of actual or proposed mitigation relative to quantified impacts. Submissions could include modeling exercises that extrapolate policy prescriptions across large areas and estimate benefits; field-collected data at large extents used to calculate total ecological impacts; and, combinations of modeling and field-ecology studies. Specific article themes could include:
• Measuring the footprint of transportation networks
• Evolutionary responses to transportation networks and fragmentation
• Noise and light – barriers, fear, and physiology
• Wildlife-transport conflict
• Estimating the total population impacts of transport systems and wildlife impacts
• All creatures great and small – transportation risks independent of size
• Long-distance transportation system impacts on nature
• Ecological community partitioning due to linear infrastructure
• Connecting ecological impacts to measurably-effective mitigation
Keywords: Transportation ecology, ecological communities, ecological processes, anthropogenic disturbance, Transportation impacts
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.