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Project Type
UTRC Research Initiative
Project Dates
11/05/2018 - 10/31/2021
Project Status

Recently, roadside rights-of-way have been proposed as habitat for pollinating insect conservation, such as in the US federal pollinator plan focused on monarch butterflies. However, whether highway roadsides are an effective site of biological conservation of monarchs or other pollinating insects has yet to be rigorously tested. Moreover, the as of yet limited research of road impacts on invertebrates indicates that roads may be harmful.

Some research drawing comparisons to roadside rights-of-way was done in grasslands that simulate the vegetation, but not actually located along roads. Yet other research does not use realistic management scenarios. For example, the federal pollinator plan presumes state departments of transportation will till roadsides and transplant milkweed seedlings – yet an analysis found that this would require an estimated billion milkweed seeds and be very costly. As such, there is a critical need to understand how cost-neutral or other less expensive methods of modifying roadside management practices could potentially serve to promote pollinator habitat and pollinator conservation, and whether these modifications would not also promote the proliferation of invasive and noxious species. The objectives of this research are:

Research Objective 1: Determine if and how insect abundance, diversity, and function vary in highway rights-of-way managed under control (current NYSDOT mowing management practices, NYSDOT Vegetation Mowing Policy TMI 14-10) and experimental (modified mowing regime of mowing every two years after a plant-killing frost) conditions.

Research Objective 2: Determine if and how noxious and invasive terrestrial plant abundance, regeneration, and rate of spread vary under the control and experimental conditions.