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             Research

Assessment and Management of Roadside Wildlife on I-40 in North Carolina

Principal Investigator(s): Eric G. Bolen,
    Department of Biological Sciences, UNC-Wilmington
Project Period & Status: January, 1997  to  December, 1998   Complete
Topic(s): Wildlife/Terrestrial Ecosystems    
Total Funding: $42,552
Abstract: The North Carolina Department of Transportation manages roadside areas along I-40 for wildlife and initially selected the sites to create early successional habitats for small animals, particularly songbirds, rabbits, and quail. This study was designed to (1) inventory the biota of several of these areas, (2) develop prescriptions for managing these locations while considering the safety of motorists, and (3) develop criteria for locating future sites.

Except for plants, no differences in biodiversity or abundance were determined in comparisons between the wildlife areas and adjacent control sites for arthropods, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. In general, plants differed because of mowing, but mowing procedures are not always followed by NCDOT employees and contractors (i.e., half of the wildlife plots were mowed during this study, rendering them useless for statistical analyses). Experimental food plots did not attract target species.

Roadside wildlife areas have the potential to provide habitat for species in decline and those listed as rare, threatened and endangered, but all such areas must receive greater care than at present (e.g., ditches and the aquatic communities therein are often damaged by heavy equipment). These areas also offer opportunities to educate the motoring public about wildlife conservation (e.g., pamphlets distributed at rest stops that describe roadside wildlife areas and the management of them). Future locations should be selected (1) to link similar habitats, (2) for their ecological features (e.g., adjacent wetlands), and (3) to increase their visibility to passing motorists (e.g., on turns ahead in the roadway).

Publications & Presentations: Final Report (PDF 1.27 MB)
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