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The impacts on rainforest fauna of internal fragmentation caused by clearings for linear infrastructure such as roads, highways and powerlines have been examined in the tropical rainforests of the Wet Tropics in far north Queensland. The impacts include habitat loss through clearing and edge effects, road mortality, disturbance from traffic movement, noise, headlights and pollutants and invasion along the clearings by weeds and fauna alien to the rainforest (including feral species). Barrier effects result from a combination of these factors. Rainforest fauna is often highly susceptible to these impacts due to specialised habitat requirements. Data collected over the past 15 years relating to vertebrate road mortality and trapping and tracking of small mammals, possums, herpetofauna and invertebrates confirm that many rainforest species suffer edge, linear barrier and disturbance impacts. Measures to mitigate these impacts on fauna have been or are currently being trialed and have proved successful for many species of wildlife. Mitigation may be achieved by maintenance of canopy connectivity or restoration of rainforest connectivity via corridors, faunal underpasses under roads and overpasses above them in the form of rope bridges. Preferable mitigatory strategies depend on circumstances and species. Where highways carry large numbers of fast-moving vehicles, funnelling animals under many high bridges with fencing to keep them away from the road will allow wildlife to move in the landscape while reducing road mortality. Alternatively, where roads carry few vehicles, keeping canopy above the road is a cost-effective means of maintaining connectivity for wildlife and aesthetics for tourists without a high road toll, while also reducing road erosion, edge effects, and weed and feral animal invasions.

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References

Arthington, A. H., Bunn, S. and Gray, M., 1994. Stream habitats and hydrology and the ecological implications of impoundments and flow regulation. Report 1 to the Wet Tropics Management Authority. Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management, Centre for Catchment and Instream Research, Griffith University. November 1994.
Baker, J., Goldingay, R. L. and Whelan, R. J., 1998. Powerline easements through forests: a case study of impacts on avifauna. Pacific Conservation Biology 4: 79-89.
Bacon, T. A., 1998. Erosion on unsealed roads within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area: A comparison of road conditions under varying amounts of canopy cover. M. Appl. Sci. Thesis, James Cook University, Townsville.
Barass, A. N., 1985. The effects of highway traffic noise on the phonotactic and associated reproductive behaviour of selected anurans. PhD. Thesis, Vanderbilt University, USA. 108 pp.
Bennett, A., 1999. Linkages in the landscape: the role of corridors and connectivity in wildlife conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
Bentrupperbaumer, J., 1988. Numbers and conservation status of cassowaries in the Mission Beach area following Cyclone Winifred. Report to Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane, Australia.
Bierregaard, R. O. Jr. and Stouffer, P. C., 1997. Understory birds and dynamic habitat mosaics in Amazonian rainforests. Pp 138-155 in Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management and Conservation of Fragmented Communities, edited by W. F. Laurance and R. O. Bierregaard, Jr. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
Bonell, M., Gilmour, D. A. and Sinclair, D. F., 1981. Soil hydraulic properties and their effect on surface and sub-surface water transfer in a tropical rainforest catchment. Hydrological Society Bulletin 26: 1-18.
Brown, K. J., 1994. River-bed sedimentation caused by off-road vehicles at river fords in the Victorian Highlands, Australia. Water Research Bulletin 30: 239-250
Bunn, S., Marshall, J., McKenzie, S., Arthur, M. and Choy, S., 1996. Fauna of the Tully-Millstream Area, and implications of the proposed Tully-Millstream Hydroelectric Scheme. Report 2 to the Wet Tropics Management Authority. Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management and Centre for Catchment and Instream Research, Griffith University.
Burkey, T. V., 1993. Edge effects in seed and egg predation at two Neotropical rainforest sites. Biological Conservation 66: 139-143.
Byrnes, P., 2002. Activity of feral pigs and cats associated with roads and powerline corridors within the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area. B.Sc.(Hons.) thesis, James Cook University, Cairns. 126pp.
Cole, E. K., Pope, M. D. and Anthony, R. G., 1997. Effects of road management on movement and survival of Roosevelt elk. Journal of Wildlife Management 61: 1115-1126.
Coulson, G., 1982. Road-kills of macropods on a section of highway in central Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 9: 21-26.
Dellow, P., 2000. Palmerston powerline project. QPWS Centre for Tropical Restoration project description and progress report. 24/2/2000. 6pp.
Didham, R. K., 1997. The influence of edge effects and forest fragmentation on leaf litter invertebrates in central Amazonia. Pp 55-70 in Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management and Conservation of Fragmented Communities, edited by W. F. Laurance and R. O. Bierregaard, Jr. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
Diprose, G., Lottermoser, B., Marks, S. and Day, T., 2000. Geochemical impacts on roadside soils in the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area as a result of transport activities. Pp. 66-82 in Impacts of Roads and Powerlines on the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area II, edited by M. W. Goosem and S. M. Turton. Rainforest CRC, Cairns.
Dique, D. S., Thompson, J., Preece, H. J., Penfold, G. C., de Villiers, D. L. and Leslie, R. S., 2003. Koala mortality on roads in south-east Queensland: the koala speed-zone trial. Wildlife Research 30: 419-426.
Eaglin, G. S. and Hubert, W. A., 1993. Effects of logging and roads on substrate and trout in streams of the Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 13: 844-846.
Fahrig, L., Pedlar, J. H., Pope, S. E., Taylor, P. D. and Wegner, J. F., 1995. Effect of road traffic on amphibian density. Biological Conservation 73: 177-182.
Forman, R. T. T. and Alexander, L. E., 1998. Roads and their major ecological effects. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29: 207-231.
Forman, R. T. T., Sperling, D., Bissonette, J. A., Clevenger, A. P., Cutshall, C. D., Dale, V. H., Fahrig, L., France, R., Goldman, C. R., Heanue, K., Jones, J. A., Swanson, F. J., Turrentine, T. and Winter, T. C., 2003. Road ecology: science and solutions. Island Press, Washington DC. 481pp.
Fox, B. J., Taylor, J. E., Fox, M. D. and Williams, C., 1997. Vegetation changes across edges of rainforest remnants. Biological Conservation 82: 1-13.
Gardyne, W., 1995. Cleveland-Redland Bay Road Duplication-Koala issues. Unpublished report. Queensland Department of Transport, Transport Technology Division.
Getz, L., Verner, L. and Prather, M., 1977. Lead concentrations in small mammals living near highways. Environmental Pollution 13: 151-157.
Gilmour, D. A., 1971. The effects of logging on streamflow and sedimentation in a north Queensland rainforest catchment. Commonwealth Forestry Review 50: 38-48.
Gilmour, D. A., 1977a. Logging and the environment with particular reference to soil and stream protection in tropical rainforest situations. Pp 223-235 in Guidelines for Watershed Management: FAO Conservation Guide No 1. Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, Rome.
Gilmour, D. A., 1977b. Streamflow changes after logging and clearing in north Queensland. Pp 19-31 in Water Management and Drainage in north Queensland. Proceedings of the Water Research Foundation of Australia Symposium, Innisfail.
Gilmour, D. A., 1977c. The effect of rainforest logging and clearing on water yield and quality in a high rainfall area of north east Queensland. Pp 150-160 in The Hydrology of Northern Australia. Proceedings of Institute of Engineers of Australia Symposium, Brisbane.
Gish, C. D. and Christiansen, R. E., 1973. Cadmium, nickel, lead and zinc in earthworms from roadside soil. Environmental Science and Technology 7: 21-32.
Goldingay, R. L. and Whelan, R. J., 1997. Powerline easements: do they promote edge effects in eucalypt forest for small mammals? Wildlife Research 24: 737-744.
Goosem, M., 1997. Internal fragmentation: the effects of roads, highways and powerline clearings on movements and mortality of rainforest vertebrates. Pp 241-255 in Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management and Conservation of Fragmented Communities, edited by W. F. Laurance and R. O. Bierregaard, Jr. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
Goosem, M., 2000a. Effects of tropical rainforest roads on small mammals: edge changes in community composition. Wildlife Research 27: 151-163.
Goosem, M. W., 2000b. Impacts of roads and powerline clearings on rainforest vertebrates with emphasis on ground-dwelling small mammals. PhD. Thesis. James Cook University, Cairns, Australia. 311pp.
Goosem, M., 2000c. The effect of canopy closure and road verge habitat on small mammal community composition and movements. Pp 2-18 in Impacts of Roads and Powerlines on the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area II, edited by M. W. Goosem and S. M. Turton. Rainforest CRC, Cairns.
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