Road Ecology: an emerging science
Road Ecology arose from the fields of landscape and ecosystem ecology and originally focused on the adverse impact of roads on nature. Scientists wanted to understand, for example, how ecosystem processes at the landscape scale are interrupted by roads and the vehicles on them, how populations of plants and animals are fragmented by road systems, the demographic and evolutionary consequences of that fragmentation, and how vehicles and their pollution (including noise) cause mortality and suppress reproduction in both plants and animals.
At the same time, transportation planners responding to increasing demand for mobility, recognized the need to minimize the adverse impact of roads and vehicles. Foresight was needed, along with deeper understanding of transportation choices, human behavior, and their consequences. Practitioners in this developing field have come to see that human communities and natural ecosystems have much the same needs for sustainable and friendly transportation systems. This movement toward a fully integrated, multidisciplinary effort culminated in the recent book entitled Road Ecology: Science and Solutions, edited and written, in part, by Richard Forman of Harvard University and Dan Sperling, director of ITS-Davis.