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Biodiversity, roads, & landscape fragmentation: two Mediterranean cases
Marcantonio, M.; Rocchini, D.; Geri, F.; Bacaro, G. (2013). Biodiversity, roads, & landscape fragmentation: two Mediterranean cases. Appl. Geogr. 42: 63-72.
In: Applied Geography. Elsevier: Sevenoaks. ISSN 0143-6228; e-ISSN 1873-7730, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Biodiversity conservation, Edge effect, Forest fragmentation, Plant species diversity, Road ecology, Road verge

Authors  Top 
  • Marcantonio, M.
  • Rocchini, D.
  • Geri, F.
  • Bacaro, G.

    The most pervasive threats to biological diversity are directly or indirectly linked to the road networks. For this reason, over the last few decades, interest in the study of the ecological characteristics of the edges associated with roads has increased. This work aims to investigate the effect of roads as a human-induced disturbance on the plant diversity in two managed Mediterranean forest sites, focusing on the responses of plants species richness, evenness, composition and taxonomic diversity.A stratified random sampling was performed in two protected areas located in Tuscany, Central Italy. The species richness, composition and abundance were measured in 53·20 × 20 m plots. Ordinary Least Square and quantile regressions were used to study the effect of the roads on species richness, evenness and taxonomic distinctness, and redundancy analysis was used to examine the species composition. Generalized linear models in conjunction with an Information Criterion-based approach to model selection were used to test the role of road distance in the structure of forest plant biodiversity.Our findings indicated a clear relationship between road distance and different plant biodiversity facets, which showed its maximum effect in the first 0–20 m forest-to-road segment and a mitigation after the 200 m threshold. Furthermore, the presence and abundance of many key forest species, such as Fagus sylvatica and Abies alba, were influenced more by the road distance than by other environmental gradients. The few remnants of core forest habitats in the Mediterranean basin highlight the need to recognize that road construction and maintenance have several ecological implications and accordingly require long-term monitoring programs.

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