Roads as a major threat to wildlife conservation in Latin America

Publication Spotlight

Written by Diego Varela, Anthony Clevenger & Clara Grilo

This review assessed published papers addressing road impacts on vertebrate species in Latin America. A total of 197 papers (1990-2017) were reviewed. The majority of papers were from South America and Brazil in particular. Mammals were the most studied taxa followed by birds, reptiles and amphibians. The majority of studies focused on road mortality and at the species level. Studies documented an increase in deforestation rates, in land conversion to agriculture, illegal activities (hunting, logging) and the establishment of human settlements. The effects of roads on species richness and populations abundance varied among taxa with no apparent pattern within taxa.

The results suggest there is an urgent need for more research, particularly in Central America and to employ predictive tools for difficult-to-sample or understudied species and critical conservation areas. The authors recommend a two-speed approach to guide future research: 1) focusing on quantifying individual species responses towards roads and implications on population viability; 2) regional or continental-scale analyses and modelling of road risks to species and populations to inform road planning immediately.

Read more ➔ Pinto F.A.S., Clevenger A.P., Grilo C. (2020) Effects of roads on terrestrial vertebrate species in Latin America. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 81:1-8

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