Title: Green Highways: New Strategies To Manage Roadsides as Habitat

Article by Richard Conniff: From northern Europe to Florida, highway planners are rethinking roadsides as potential habitat for native plants and wildlife. Scientists say this new approach could provide a useful tool in fostering biodiversity. Not long ago, a biologist took Florida landscape architect Jeff Caster aside and suggested that he ought to be designing highway margins not just for safety or scenic value, but as habitat, to help address the nation’s drastic decline in pollinating insects. Caster passed the idea along to his boss at the Florida State Department of Transportation (DOT), who looked at him as if he were crazy. Even in the best of circumstances, highways are notorious for fragmenting habitat, spreading pollution, causing roadkills, and otherwise disrupting the natural world. Highways are where insects go to be splattered on windshields. “You expect the DOT to do research on bees?” she told him. “Get real.” Instead, Caster walked her through the reasoning behind the proposal from University of Florida entomologist Jaret C. Daniels: The population of feral honeybees has dropped more than 50 percent nationwide over the past half-century. Pathogens, pesticides, and habitat loss have also decimated native pollinating insect species. The tripling of herbicide use in agriculture since the introduction of Roundup Ready corn and soybeans has also eliminated milkweed and other native species that used to live in U.S. farm fields. That’s caused monarch butterfly populations to crash, says University of Kansas insect ecologist Orley Taylor, founder of Monarch Watch. Click here for full article.[Photo credit: Jaret Daniels, Wildflowers, Gaillardia pulchella, bloom along a Florida road.]

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Attachments:
florida_roadside_flowers.jpg
Article: WeedsNews4509 (permalink)
Categories: :WeedsNews:beneficial weeds, :WeedsNews:biodiversity, :WeedsNews:bees, :WeedsNews:research alert, :WeedsNews:roadside weeds, :WeedsNews:rare weeds
Date: June 26, 2013; 10:49:43 AM EST
Author Name: Zheljana Peric
Author ID: zper12