Contribution of Roads to Forest Fragmentation in the Rocky Mountains
William L Baker
Rebecca A Reed
Tags: WLCI Related Publication
The contribution of roads to forest fragmentation has not been adequately analyzed. We quantified fragmentation due to roads in a 30,213-ha section of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in sout heastern Wyoming with several indices of landscape structure using a geographic information system. The number of patches, mean patch area, mean interior area, mean area of edge influence, mean patch perimeter, total perimeter, and mean patch shape identified patch- and edge-related landscape changes. Shannon-Wiener diversity, dominance, contagion, contrast, and angular second moment indicated effects on landscape diversity and texture. Roads added to forest fragmentation more than clearcuts by dissecting large patches into smaller pieces and by converting forest interior habitat into edge habitat. Edge habitat created by roads was 1.54â€"1.98 times the edge habitat created by clearcuts. The total landscape area affected by clearcuts and roads was 2.5â€"3.5 times the actual area occupied by these disturbances. Fragmentation due to roads could be minimized if road construction is minimized or rerouted so that its fragmentation effects are reduced. Geographic information system technology can be used to quantify the potential fragmentation effects of individual roads and the cumulative effects of a road network on landscape structure.