The Road Ecology Center was created by a cooperative effort between the John Muir Institute of the Environment (JMIE) and Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis) at the University of California, Davis. Our goal is to bring together researchers and policy makers from ecology and transportation to design sustainable transportation systems based on an understanding of the impact of roads on natural landscapes and human communities. To accomplish this goal, we are developing a broadly interdisciplinary program dedicated to the design of transportation systems that are environmentally and socially friendly.
Activities in Road Ecology at UC Davis officially began with our first workshop on May 5, 2003. An outcome of the roundtable discussion following the workshop was the immediate creation of a "virtual" Road Ecology Center, which will be jointly administered by JMIE and ITS-Davis, which are both official ORU's (organized research units). We felt that the creation of yet another institutional structure was unnecessary, at least at this time, as road ecology fits the missions of both existing ORU's. The UC Davis Road Ecology Center is directed by Alison Berry (Environmental Horticulture), and co-directed by Dan Sperling (Director ITS-Davis) and Cathy Toft (Associate Director, JMIE).
The mission of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center is to:
- Integrate the dispersed disciplines of road ecology on campus to build a coherent state-of-the-science body of principles useful to transportation planning.
- Disseminate this information broadly to the professional communities, to students and environmental scientists, to agencies, and to public interest groups.
- Create analytical methods, professional practices, and institutional processes to support sustainable transportation.
This new Center will have several advisory groups to assist in implementing our mission. One of these, the Road Ecology Think Tank (members resisted being called a "committee") met to brainstorm sources of funding and initiatives that would support our infrastructure. Initial Think Tank members -- in addition to Dan, Cathy and Alison -- are Susan Handy, Susan Harrison, and Jim Quinn of DESP, and Brad Shaffer of EVE. The Think Tank will then disperse to a series of subgroups of many more collaborators on specific grants and initiatives identified in the initial brainstorming phase. The Road Ecology Center will have standing committees, the membership of which has yet to be identified, in particular: (1) a Steering Committee of 5-15 faculty and researchers, (2) a Board of Advisors of senior leaders and experts from outside UC Davis, and (3) a Technical Advisory Board of other outside leaders and experts
More workshops and activities in Road Ecology are now planned for the upcoming academic year. These include a graduate seminar in Road Ecology with outside speakers and quarterly half-day workshops in specific subareas of Road Ecology. Such subareas are expected so spin off into workgroups seeking funding for research initiatives. The two overarching themes and their associated subareas are the following:
Design of transportation systems:
- Human communities and design of sustainable transportation
- Economics of sustainable transportation and evolving transportation systems
- Design of pavements, fuels and alternate transportation
Effects of roads on natural landscapes and both human & non-human populations:
- conservation biology, invasive species, and wildlife
- ecosystem ecology.
- ecotoxicology and ecophysiology
- air and water quality
- hydrological effects of roads on landscapes
- off-road ecology and effects of OHV's on landscapes
A brief history of the Road Ecology Center.
The location of the Road Ecology Center, with links to directions and maps.