, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 567-581

Disturbance by traffic of breeding birds: evaluation of the effect and considerations in planning and managing road corridors

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Abstract

In wildlife considerations in planning and managing road corridors little attention has been given to the effects of disturbance by traffic on populations of breeding birds. Recent studies, however, show evidence of strongly reduced densities of many species of woodland and open habitat in broad zones adjacent to busy roads. The density reduction is related to a reduced habitat quality, and traffic noise is probably the most critical factor. Because density can underestimate the habitat quality, the effects on breeding populations are probably larger than have been established. In consequence, species that did not show an effect on the density might still be affected by traffic noise. On the basis of this recent knowledge, methods have been developed that can be used in spatial planning procedures related to main roads, and in road management practice, and some practical points are discussed. An example of application shows that the effects are probably very important in The Netherlands with a dense network of extremely crowded main roads. For ‘meadow birds’, which are of international importance, the decrease in population in the West of The Netherlands may amount to 16%. Because breeding birds suffer from many other environmental influences there is also a great risk of an important cumulation of effects.