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Project Objective:

Three primary objectives:

  1. Document the impacts of transportation infrastructure on herpetile population
  2. Determine the landscape, local habitat, and architectural attributes of effective herpetile crossing structure
  3. Employ habitat analyses to identify "connectivity zones" where crossing structures would be most appropriately deployed along New York State roadways
Project Abstract:

New York State hosts 67 species of frogs, toads, turtles, snakes and lizards, collectively called "herpetiles". This group of small-bodied, generally slowly moving creatures is, somewhat paradoxically, an extremely mobile group of animals. Virtually all species of frogs, toads, and salamanders move each year from forests and fields, where they spend much of the year feeding, resting, and hibernating, to wetlands to breed. Many aquatic turtles do the reverse – females emerge each year from ponds, lakes, and other wetlands to dig holes in the uplands and lay their eggs. Snakes also roam widely in search of prey and mates, visiting both wetlands and uplands in their meanderings. To conserve New York's herpetiles we must protect a diversity of habitats that they require as well as the connections between them. Roadways are thus a critical consideration because they frequently bisect migration and dispersal routes of herpetiles. Road mortality of herpetiles is a worldwide conservation concern, and the United States is no exception. Roads and traffic ecologically affect about one-fifth of the land area of the conterminous United States. The ecological effect of roads is a particularly germane issue to New York State, which has the 11th highest road density among the 50 states. Most research on the effects of road mortality on amphibians has entailed simple tallies of numbers of individuals killed at particular road crossing sites, in some cases yielding surprisingly substantial counts. For example, counts along a 3.6 km section of a two-lane paved causeway in Ontario, Canada over two seasons yielded > 32,000 individual road-killed amphibians. In New York State, Wyman (1991) reported average mortality rates of 50.3% to 100% for hundreds of salamanders attempting to cross a paved, rural road near Oneonta. For turtles, chronic road mortality of females on nesting movements may result in sex ratios of turtles becoming skewed toward males in roadside wetlands.