Evolution allows species to adapt to their surroundings, so the species can fulfill a niche and live to procreate and continue. Those species which didn’t evolve fast enough and were not able to change their localized living spaces are no longer with us , or risk joining the listing of endangered species and then, possibly eventual extinction. Let us discuss how people are changing not only our own surroundings but the environment we share with other species and the way that affects their adaptations and evolutionary process.
There was an interesting article in Science News online lately titled; “Roads are driving fast evolutionary change in our surroundings – Study explains why street ecology issues,” published on February 17, 2017 about a study from Dartmouth College which said: “Roads are inducing rapid evolutionary shift in wild populations of plants and animals according to some other paper. The analysis looks at the evolutionary changes that are being brought on by the way streets slice and dice our plane.”
Amongst the four Big ways our roads really are messing with wildlife are:
(1) Road Kill
But, for this list I’d love to add street noise, interfering in the hunting and evading procedure for character, and urban heat island effect. Additionally, hunting by humans, easier access to animals which hangout near roads for road kill, heat, or warm water runoff – and poisoning by individuals who put toxins out to prevent rodents and gophers from digging borrows under the road way or to nearby flood control levees and infrastructures. So, let us call these:
There are many road Kill studies – one I often like to mention is by Sean Anderson of California State University Channel Islands in CA. Among his graduate students has a thesis of curiosity; “Web-Based Reporting System for Road Kill” which was an incredibly insightful job as to just how many animals are killed each year in rural regions in California. Those critters who prevent roads live to procreate, people who don’t frequently get smushed, providing protein for scavengers who take advantage of the new food supply – sometimes in their peril.
Those critters that listen for automobiles, or watch carefully and respond quickly endure and thrive, procreate and continue. Nocturnal Animals which don’t freeze in car headlights – well , they live and procreate too, people who don’t perish and become road pizza.
There have been a lot of tales about Mountain Lions murdered on Southern California Freeways – trying to cross. You would think a mountain lion would find out and be agile enough to get out of the way – not so, as nothing they’ve ever encountered weighs 6,000 lbs. And chases after them at 60+ mph, so they aren’t on the lookout for automobiles. Even though some of the mountain lions labeled have traditionally spanned freeways in CA, perhaps they are learning and adapting, instructing their young, maybe in 20-generations adaptations will begin to seem as they burst for this new danger?
A new statistical study showed that the normal point in america is less than 1/2 mile from a paved street. Our wildlife must adapt or perish to deal with these changes in their environment. Pigeons have adapted to live in the city, in parks, as well as other species – completely altering the dynamics of their normal evolutionary process, simply because whatever we do, affects another thing.